EXCLUSIVE: The One Percent, MRC’s drama series from Oscar-winning filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu, is on the move. The project, which originally was picked up by Starz in summer 2014 with a 10-episode straight-to-series order, is now in turnaround after several production start delays led to the pay cable network pulling out as U.S. broadcaster.
MRC, which previously worked with Iñárritu on the Oscar-nominated feature Babel, remains fully committed to the series, which will star Greg Kinnear and Hilary Swank. Swank had been attached from the get-go, Kinnear was recently cast as the male lead, replacing Ed Helms who was originally set to play the role. MRC will look for a new distributor.
Iñárritu, who won back-to-back directing Oscars for Birdman and The Revenant, is known for filming his movies in sequence. The unconventional method of shooting is not easy or cheap to pull off, and, coupled with weather issues, led to budget and filming schedule overages on The Revenant. The movie went on to become a box office hit and win three Oscars for Iñárritu, star Leonardo DiCaprio and cinematographer Emmanuel ‘Chivo’ Lubezki.
Iñárritu is applying the same style to The One Percent, which he also plans to film in sequence at a specific location, a farm in the Midwest. Trying to sync up the two has led to a series of delays and Starz’ exit. In 2013, the pay cable network also pulled out of its commitment to air Sky Atlantic’s drama series Fortitude when the production schedule changed and it no longer could be delivered at the agreed upon date.
Starz and MRC remain in business together — they have the upcoming series Counterpart, starring J.K. Simmons, which is now in production.
There is no start date for The One Percent yet but MRC is moving forward with the show and supporting Iñárritu’s vision. If everything goes well, cameras should start rolling in the next few months.
The One Percent follows a broken family struggling to keep their farm from financial ruin, until a bizarre twist of fate changes their lives forever. Kinnear will play the downtrodden farmer, Swank plays his wife. Ed Harris, who had had conversations about playing the family patriarch, might do the role as a guest star if his schedule on HBO’s Westworld permits.
The One Percent was created and written by Iñárritu, Alexander Dinelaris Jr, Nicolás Giacobone and Armando Bo. The quartet, who won a writing Oscar for Best Picture winner Birdman, also executive produce. Amy Kaufman (Billions) will serve as producer.
Iñárritu is setting the creative direction of the series, with his longtime collaborator, 3-time Academy Award-winning cinematographer Lubezki (The Revenant, Birdman, Gravity), directing the pilot and setting the visual style of the show.
Another member of Iñárritu’s team, Oscar-nominated Jack Fisk (The Revenant) will serve as Production Designer.
Kinnear, nominated for an Oscar for As Good As It Gets, recently played Joe Biden in the HBO movie Confirmation.