EXCLUSIVE: "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" was a reasonably sized hit when it came out in the winter of 2010: The mythology-infused film based on Rick Riordan's bestseller drew $89 million in U.S. box office and another $137 million around the world.
Now a sequel hopes to build on that fan base.
According to a source familiar with the production who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of discussions, studio Fox 2000 has exercised the option on star Logan Lerman, essentially meaning that the young actor is locked down to reprise his role as Percy Jackson in a new picture. The company has also hired a director in Thor Freudenthal, best known for helming the similarly boy-oriented "Diary of a Wimpy Kid;" he'll pick up where "Lightning Thief" director Chris Columbus left off. (Columbus will only produce this new movie.)
As we reported in March, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, the well-regarded writers of "Ed Wood" and kid hit "Agent Cody Banks," have been brought on to write a script. The idea, the source said, is to move quickly with a new film and come out as early as 2012.
The first "Percy Jackson" film introduced the world to an ordinary boy who discovers that he is the son of the Greek god Poseidon. Riordan's second book, subtitled "The Sea of Monsters," follows Percy and his group of friends as they head to the titular sea to find the mythical Golden Fleece, as well as to free a friend who has been captured there. It's expected, though, that the sequel will draw from other Percy Jackson titles as well as "Sea of Monsters."
It's easy to understand a studio's interest in the Percy Jackson property: In addition to the five books Riordan wrote in the series, he's penned numerous spinoffs, including the popular "The Demigod Files."
Any new Percy Jackson movie would need to contend with the age question: Lerman is already 19 in real life (the first film aged the character up from 12 to 17) while the property's core fan base can see their tastes change pretty quickly.
Then again, there is this tantalizing fact: After this summer there will presumably still be audiences hungering for movies about boys on fantastical adventures, but no "Harry Potter" to sate them.
Photo: Logan Lerman in "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief." Credit: Fox 2000