With the final 'Hobbit' film hitting theaters later this year, Warner Bros. is looking for their next big fantasy franchise to fill the void. And since 'Game of Thrones' has made dragons so popular (but is already taken by HBO), the studio is eyeing classic novel series 'The Dragonriders of Pern' by Anne McCaffrey. Are dragons the new wizards?

Deadline reports that WB has gotten the rights to the 'Dragonriders of Pern' book series by McCaffrey, which contains 23 books and is one of the most popular sci-fi/fantasy book series ever written. Following their massive success with the 'Harry Potter' and 'Lord of the Rings'/'Hobbit' franchises, the studio is looking for the next big fantasy franchise to hook audiences of all ages, and they may have just found it.

'Dragonriders of Pern' was once in development as a TV series for Warner Bros. under the guidance of 'Battlestar Galactica' showrunner Ronald D. Moore, but Moore parted ways with the company over major creative differences. And as recently as 2011, 'X-Men' and 'Watchmen' screenwriter David Hayter was tasked with writing a script for a film version of 'Dragonflight,' the first book in the 'Dragonriders of Pern' series, which was originally published way back in 1968 as the start of a trilogy.

The first book follows a group of warriors who ride fire-breathing, telepathic dragons and fight to defend their planet from Thread, a deadly spore that consumes all living matter, including plants, animals, and humans. The threat comes from the Red Star, a rogue planet that orbits Pern.

Anne McCaffrey wrote nine more novels in the series, as well as two books of related short stories. Starting in 2003, McCaffrey worked with her son Todd on eight more 'Dragonriders' novels, the most recent of which was published in 2012. That should give the folks at WB plenty of material to work with.

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