Disney Reportedly Won’t Let ‘Percy Jackson’ Be Scary

in Disney, Television

Leah Sava Jeffries, Aryan Simhadri, and Walker Scobell looking quizzical in Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Credit: Disney+

Percy Jackson fans have high hopes for the upcoming new TV adaptation of the beloved Rick Riordan YA fantasy series, but it sounds like Disney is already watering down the material.

Poster art for Percy Jackson and the Olympians, showing Walker Scobell kneeling on a beach
Credit: Disney+

The Percy Jackson series of books (officially called the Camp Half-Blood Chronicles) is set in a world in which the Greek gods of old still exist in the 21st century and have some pretty strict requirements about their half-human demi-god progeny. In particular, the “Big Three” of Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon have all vowed not to have any more demi-god children because, in these books, World War II was caused by their too-powerful kids.

So, yeah, strap in because the Percy Jackson books can be a pretty wild ride. However, it turns out that the VFX supervisors behind the upcoming Disney+ series Percy Jackson and the Olympians seem to have been hobbled by the House of Mouse, which doesn’t want the adaptation to be too scary.

Related: Disney’s ‘Percy Jackson’ Gets Trailer in Streaming Service Bid for Viewers

Percy Jackson VFX supervisors Erik Henry and Jeff White spoke at New York Comic Con (per Collider), extolling the merits of the Rick Riordan adaptation. However, they also mentioned that they had to create a vision of the mythical Underworld (which Percy Jackson and his friends Annabeth Chase and Grover Underwood visit in the first book) that would not be too frightening for children.

Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson
Credit: Disney+

Henry and White said instead of the dark and shadowy Underworld of Greek myth, they had to create a world that depicted “different walks of life,” which is an interesting way to talk about a place full of literal dead people. They described their approach as “[A] person who looks like they lost their life in a skiing accident, a matador, and a person who fell asleep and never woke up, and they’re in their pajamas. So you, I think really importantly, take away some of the scariness of it, and yet you still have something that, for an older audience, they get the humor of it. That’s kind of one of the ways in which we balance things kind of differently and handle it, I think, in a good way.”

More directly, Henry and White revealed they had to tone down the appearance of the Minotaur, a monster pretty famous for being terrifying. The pair said they had “checks and balances” on how they could make it appear and eventually were able to arrive at “scary but not run-out-of-the-room scary.”

Related: New Images Show First Look at Updated Disney+ ‘Percy Jackson’ Cast

That certainly sounds like the hand of the famously family-friendly Disney at work. Even as the brand tries to move into more potentially disturbing directions, as with the currently very popular Goosebumps series, Disney cannot help but tone things down.

A clip from Disney+'s Percy Jackson and the Olympians show
Credit: Disney+

The new Percy Jackson stars Walker Scobell as the titular son of Poseidon (Toby Stephens), who finds himself accused of stealing a thunderbolt by his uncle Zeus (the late Lance Reddick). Along with Annabeth Chase (Leah Sava Jeffries), daughter of Athena, and his Satyr friend Grover Underwood (Aryan Simhadri), in order to solve a dark conspiracy behind the theft.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is scheduled to premiere on Disney+ on December 20.

Will the new series turn out as Rick Riordan wants, or will Disney mess it up again? Give us Olympian opinions in the comments below!

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