Hello, demigods and half-bloods, surely you're here out of curiosity or anger, or perhaps a combination of the two. Well, don't worry, let me receive those emotions with both understanding and empathy. I am a very large "Percy Jackson" fan myself. I picked up the books one day in seventh grade and I never put them down. So your reaction to the title, whatever it may be, I completely understand.
Unfortunately, as unpleasant as it is, the title is correct.
The "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series and all of its consecutive companions — let's call it the Riordan Universe — is a very extensive and well-known batch of books. In fact, it might be impossible to list the number of times every single one of Riordan's books has been on the New York Times Best-Sellers list. His mythical universe has been delighting young readers for over a decade and naturally, when readers love something so much, they want to see more of it. And often, in this time and age, when fans want to see more of a book series, the trend is to transform it into media.
The Riordan Universe has a complicated relationship with this trend and that is the exact reason why there cannot be a television show. In 2010, the film adaption of "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief" premiered, released by 20th Century Fox, who owned and still owns the rights. In 2013, the next installment of the film series, "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," premiered and then the franchise fell into the dark. While both films are rough adaptations of their origins (and I mean rough), neither of them are bad. They're entertaining, lighthearted, and made double their budgets at the box office. TLDR; they technically weren't failures.
Taking this into consideration, that leaves only one option left to explain why the franchise never continued: the fanfare. The fans of the book series didn't like it. And I'm saying this as someone who loves the movies and can watch them without getting angry. Despite the hard work put in by the cast, the crew, and everyone else involved in the films, the end product simply was not what books fans were looking for. That's understandable, since a good film adaptation is a must on any book nerd's checklist.
Yet, as it was stated above, due to the negative fanfare the franchise was halted and killed (I say that loosely since the only information I can get is from an interview by MTV with Logan Lerman in 2014), and if the franchise is dead that means it is currently residing in the tombs of 20th Century Fox. Here lies the explanation to the concerning claim that there can be no television show.
Rick Riordan has stated several times throughout his career that he does not own the film/television rights to Percy Jackson. He wrote a letter on his website in 2017 titled "Percy, Disney and Fox: Some Thoughts." In that letter, he states, "In early 2004, before the first book was published, Disney movie studios passed on the movie rights, which is how Percy Jackson ended up at Fox."
And before anyone tries to raise a hand an ask about buying back the rights, Rick has already answered that question as well in the F.A.Q on his website:
"Fan: But can't you buy back the rights from Fox?
Me: I tried. They declined to sell back the rights at any price.
Fan: Couldn't another company buy the rights and make a show?
Me: I've asked about that too. No joy."
As you can see, he's had some trouble with no positive outcomes. For the time being, the rights are owned by Fox and they will remain with Fox for the foreseeable future. Even worse, is that owning the media rights to "Percy Jackson" not only grants Fox the rights for the original series, it also gives them the rights for Heroes of Olympus and Trials of Apollo; this can be fact-checked on Riordan's F.A.Q as well, under the "Movies" section.
Now, I am very aware — as I'm sure you are — that Disney has been going back and forth with Fox in terms of purchasing the company and has recently succeeded. According to The Week, Fox accepted Disney's $71.3 billion dollar offer, which included them taking ownership of the 20th Century Fox film and television studio. Sounds like good news, right? Well, not exactly. Oh campers, I feel your pain, much like Percy felt that sting of Luke's magical scorpion in the first book.
This could be an improvement, but it's not that fantastic. The deal between Disney and Fox still has to go through and while that should run its course with no bumps in the road, it doesn't mean there is currently a group of people in a room hunched over their notepads writing the script for a new "Percy Jackson" film or television series. In the same "Percy and Disney" article, Rick laid out the intricacies of this situation, stating,
"Realize, though, that Disney studios are a completely different branch of the corporation from Disney publishing. I don't know anyone at the studios. I have no relationship with the film side. [...] The merger also does not mean that I will have any more control or influence over what Disney decides to do or not do with those rights than I did with Fox."
I know, I know. You're all feeling very "Disney Hades hair-on-fire" with me right now. I understand, I've been feeling that way for close to a decade now. The media rights of the beloved Percy Jackson is a tricky, spider web-like ordeal. Even when Disney officially takes over Fox, it doesn't mean Rick is going to receive the rights back in a golden envelope, nor does it mean that Disney would be willing to sell the rights back to him. In fact, they may never give the rights back.
The Riordan Universe is an extremely popular collection of children's and young adult novels. People of every age group read them and enjoy them, and because of that, the market for it as a film or television show would be HUGE. There are crossover stories, extra short stories, and over 10 books of material to pluck from. Remember, Percy Jackson is everywhere in the Riordan Universe. Disney doesn't own the rights to the character himself, but they are a talented and overwhelmingly powerful company. I'm sure they understand that with Percy, the possibilities are endless.
Of course, if it is assumed Disney will pick up the franchise at all, means that in the end, a television show would happen. That's the best news, but it wouldn't happen for a long time. This is something that frustrates me the most. Disney and Fox, depending on who is left in charge of the rights, have a ton of stuff going on. And without a direct connection to Disney, there is no way for me to tell you what they'll do with Percy Jackson or Fox. Those rights could stay stuck in the tombs, gathering dust for over a decade before they're even glanced at again.
The end is where the hope lies it seems. In order to get a television show or anything at all, you'd need a miracle and a lot of money. Depending on legalities, the Percy Jackson media rights will probably find their new home in the next two years. And I'm stating that number on personal opinion, considering just how much 21st Century Fox owns. After that, it's really up in the air. Another company could ask to buy it, Disney could fish it out and reboot it, but overall, the outcomes look bleak for any road that may appear.
For the time being, the film and television rights for Percy Jackson reside in the high-security halls of Disney/Fox, but don't let it discourage you. There are plenty of awesome, fan-made Percy Jackson web series waiting to entertain you. And remember, the readers and viewers of today, are the authors and directors of tomorrow. Perhaps, in however many years, you'll find yourself a part of the new effort to bring your favorite childhood series to the big screen.
Either way, keep on wishing half-bloods, you never know what'll happen. In the meantime though, go fight some monsters for me.