Is It Time For a Streaming Service to Adapt Wilbur Smith’s Ancient Egypt Works?

Wilbur Smith was one of the best writers of ancient Egyptian fiction ever, with his works blending fact and fantasy in thrilling and intriguing ways. Many of his offerings have been transformed into movies and television shows in the past, but it has been over 20 years since the last adaptation.

With ancient Egypt being hugely popular in the wider entertainment industry, it’s surprising that there aren’t more series set in that era on streaming services. Netflix or one of the other major platforms could have a huge hit on its hands if it decided to make a brand new television show based on one of Smith’s most popular novels.

Ancient Egyptian Themes are Booming in Popular Culture

With the streaming wars in full force, different platforms are trying to secure the best IPs that are most likely to bring in viewers. There are loads of recent examples of this, with HBO Max buying the rights to make The Last of Us and Netflix claiming The Witcher. Ancient Egypt is an era that’s ripe for adaptation, but nobody has ventured into that period in recent times on the small screen.

The streaming service that leaps first could benefit massively. After all, Game of Thrones was originally seen as a gamble for HBO, and it went on to become one of its biggest hits ever. Judging by the wider entertainment industry, venturing into ancient Egypt wouldn’t be such a risk. In certain markets, the genre is booming.

The online casino industry, for instance, has numerous slots like Book of Dead, which are based on ancient Egypt. That hugely popular title is inspired by the legendary collection of ancient Egyptian spells that sent the dead into the afterlife. The game also features an intrepid explorer by the name of Rich Wilde, who searches pyramids and tombs for artifacts.

This adventure theme has proved to be a major hit among players, and there are various other games in the series. Some titles are inspired by it, such as Pilgrim of the Dead and Book of Kings.

Various Books That Are Ripe for Adaptation

The online casino industry should be a massive influence for television developers as this is a bustling market with millions of players worldwide. Themes that are well-loved on slots, therefore, are also likely to be enjoyed on screen.

Anyone looking to transform an ancient Egyptian-themed book into a television series would be wise to explore Smith’s works. Many of his later novels were set in that era, beginning with River God in 1993 and ending with Pharaoh in 2016. Since the author died in 2021, Mark Chadbourn has continued the series with The New Kingdom in 2021, Titans of War in 2022, and Testament in 2023. There’s a lot that a television adaptation could go on, with enough source material for several seasons.

Adapt Wilbur Smiths Ancient Egypt

River God and The Seventh Scroll have been converted into a television series before, highlighting their potential for the small screen. The two books were used as inspiration for The Seventh Scroll miniseries in 1999, which featured Roy Scheider, Jeff Fahey, and Karina Lombard. A new series could use this one as inspiration but easily expand on it using modern technology and a superior production budget.

Could Explore Other Offerings From Smith’s Catalog

If a streaming platform decided to take the leap and start using Smith’s novels for a television series, it could potentially be set up for many years. Supposing that the ancient Egyptian series turned into a huge hit, television producers could explore some of Smith’s other series. There are loads of excellent options to choose from, with The Courtney Novels being the late author’s most extensive series. There’s also the Ballantyne series, set from the 1860s to the 1980s.

Adapting other works from Smith would replicate a model that’s recently proved successful for Netflix. The streaming service has the rights to adapt Harlan Coben’s novels, and it has already made eight of them into a limited series. These include The Stranger, Safe, and Fool Me Once. Viewers have come to learn what to expect from these series, and by putting Harlan Coben’s name on each of them, Netflix has been able to attract the same audience to each.

It is baffling that there aren’t more ancient Egyptian-themed series on television. However, judging by the popularity of the era in other areas of entertainment, it feels like it won’t be long before a streaming service takes the plunge. Adapting Smith’s ancient Egyptian series into a television show could be a recipe for success.

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