Music to my ears is the news that Gore Verbinski, director of Pirates of the Caribbean, Rango, and (truly, most-importantly) MouseHunt has found his next project in an adaptation of George RR Martin’s 1979 short story Sandkings. The scoop comes from an interview with the director on Collider, where he dropped the news of the project.
The fantastic sci-fi premise of Sandkings takes place on the planet Baldur, where the wealthy Simon Kress makes a hobby of collecting exotic and sometimes-dangerous animals. His morbid curiosity leads him to acquire the titular sandkings, intelligent and seemingly-feudal insect colonies that are subject to a single queen, called a maw, that controls her worker-sandkings telepathically. The critters worship their monarch by the construction of literal sandcastles in their terrarium, and engage in turf wars with other sandking colonies. Most troublesome is the insects’ tendency… to grow, eventually becoming too big for Simon to handle as mere tabletop hobby.
Martin’s original story sounds like the sort of high-flung pulp sci-fi of that era that’s just ripe for all sorts of interpretation, but in the hands of a visual master like Verbinski, Sandkings should make for an excellent romp. John Baldecchi and his Digital Riot Media will produce, with the script coming from writer Dennis Kelly, whose series Utopia Verbinski calls “brilliant.” Sandkings is being produced with Netflix, where it will likely premiere, though details are still to be confirmed.
As a massive fan of Verbinski’s and one concerned over the lukewarm reception of A Cure for Wellness at the box office, the news of his return puts a smile on my face, and to see more of Martin’s sci-fi fare pined for adaptation is a great thing. With the writing on Sandkings seemingly still being touched up, it’ll likely be awhile before we catch any glimpse of the film. But to know there’s something cooking in Verbinski’s kitchen is enough for me.