By Lesley Goldberg
April 20, 2021
Ava DuVernay’s Array is getting into the animation business.
The prolific producer behind Netflix’s Selma, 13th and When They See Us is adding an animated event series based on author Tui T. Sutherland’s best-selling book series Wings of Fire. The series, which will consist of 10, 40-minute episodes, is described as an epic fantasy saga that appeals to the whole family.
Wings of Fire is based on Scholastic’s planned 15-book series. Dan Milano (Glitch Techs), Christa Starr (Mystery Science Theater 3000) and Justin Ridge (Star Wars Resistance) will serve as showrunners and exec producers, with the former pair adapting the book series for television. DuVernay, Sutherland, Array president Sarah Bremner and Warner Bros. Animation president Sam Register will all exec produce the series. The project hails from Warner Bros. Animation, a division of Warner Bros. Television, where DuVernay’s Array is based with a lucrative overall deal.
“Within this epic book series from the mind of Tui Sutherland is an elegant saga filled with wisdom and wonder, exploring ideas of belonging and bias, camaraderie and community,” DuVernay said. “On behalf of my colleagues Sarah Bremner and Paul Garnes of Array Filmworks, we’re thrilled to partner with Netflix and Warner Bros. Animation for this dynamic adaptation where five young dragonets fulfill their destiny and show viewers how to fulfill their own.”
Here’s Netflix’s formal description of the series: “A bitter war has raged for generations between the dragon tribes who inhabit the epic world of Pyrrhia. According to prophecy, five young dragons will rise to end the bloodshed and bring peace back to the land. Raised and trained in secret from the time they were hatched, the Dragonets of destiny — Clay, Tsunami, Glory, Starflight and Sunny — embark on an evolving quest that will bring them face to face with their true selves and the overwhelming scope of this savage war they are destined to bring to an end.
Wings of Fire is DuVernay’s latest TV collaboration with Netflix, joining Emmy-winning limited series When They See Us and the upcoming Colin in Black & White series. All told, Array is also behind OWN’s Queen Sugar and Cherish the Day, NBC’s unscripted series Home Sweet Home, HBO Max docuseries One Perfect Shot, limited series DMZ and The CW’s DC Comics pilot Naomi, with other projects in various stages of development.
“We couldn’t be more proud that Ava has chosen Netflix as the home for her first animated series,” said Netflix vp animation Melissa Cobb. “An epic fantasy saga full of sweep and spectacle, Wings of Fire promises to be a must-see event for the whole family.”
For Warners, Wings of Fire marks the studio’s latest off-network sale as it continues to focus on its internal divisions (HBO and streamer HBO Max) as well as selling titles that don’t necessarily fit within the company’s own portfolio. Register, it’s worth noting, has been a rising star at the studio and last year was promoted to head up Cartoon Network Studios and recently also added the relaunched Hanna-Barbera Studios in Europe to his purview.
Here’s Sutherland’s note to fans about the show:
I’ve always loved dragons — from Beauty in Dragonsong to Kazul in Dealing with Dragons, from Falkor to Sisu, from Temeraire to Toothless. I love that they can be funny and fierce, terrifying and loyal, all at the same time.
When I started writing my own dragon series, Wings of Fire, I knew a few important things. I knew I wanted it to be a big epic fantasy with a sense of humor and kindhearted heroes. I wanted to explore questions of fate vs. free will, different ways of handling power, nature and nurture, family and empathy and friendship.
And perhaps most of all, I wanted it to be a story told entirely from the dragons’ point of view.
In the world of Pyrrhia, dragons get to have all the adventures. They get to be the ones who save the day, fall in love, fight the bad guys, and maybe fulfill a prophecy or two, if they feel like it. (There are humans in this world, but… they mostly just get eaten a lot.)
And now I am so excited to invite you into the Wings of Fire world in a whole new way: as a TV show on Netflix! “Will there ever be a TV show?” has been the #1 question I’ve gotten at events almost from the beginning, and the answer is finally yes!
Not just “yes,” but “yes, AND I cannot believe the amazing team who are going to make this so great.” I am so immensely thrilled and grateful that Ava DuVernay is our Queen of Dragons (I’m pretty sure that’s the official title). Ava is someone who saves the world every day without waiting for any prophecy to tell her what to do. I hope some of my dragons grow up to be just like her!
And I knew the minute I met our showrunners, Dan Milano and Christa Starr, that they are funny, kind, super-nerd kindred spirits who 100% understand what I’m trying to do with the books. FanWings, you will love them, too! In their talented hands, I have faith the TV show will fulfill the dreams of all the people who’ve asked me that question over the years.
When I started writing this series, I wanted to show that any dragon can be part of saving the world, no matter how shy or weird or prickly or overly enthusiastic they are. I wanted the readers to feel that, too—that each of you is important and wonderful just as you are, and you can make a difference.
I wanted you to see yourselves in the pages of this dragon world – and now I hope you’ll be able to see yourselves on screen as well.
I cannot wait to go on this journey with this team and with you!