An U.S. adaptation of Utopia, written by Gone Girl author and screenwriter Gillian Flynn, is back on. Amazon Studios has given a nine-episode straight-to-series order to the project, with Flynn as creator, executive producer and showrunner. It will be the first project under an overall TV deal she has signed with Amazon Studios.
A U.S. version of the 2013-14 British series Utopia, created by Dennis Kelly and produced by Endemol Shine Group’s UK production studio Kudos, was previously in the works at HBO in 2015 with David Fincher and Flynn. (Fincher, who had been originally attached to direct and executive produce, brought on Flynn to write the series having just worked with her on the feature Gone Girl, which he helmed from a script she had penned based on her book.) The series was in pre-production, and Fincher and Flynn had been rehearsing with the cast that included Rooney Mara, Colm Feore, Eric McCormack, Dallas Roberts and Jason Ritter, when it unraveled after Fincher and HBO could not agree on a budget.
While HBO considered doing Utopia with another director, the project ultimately didn’t go forward at the premium cable network. (Flynn subsequently reunited with HBO on the upcoming drama series Sharp Objects, starring Amy Adams, which Flynn co-wrote based on her book alongside Marti Noxon). Utopia was originally developed by Kudos owner Shine America, which attached Fincher. Work on the project continued after the company’s regime change following its merger with Endemol. Several months ago, Endemol Shine North America, with Flynn on board, began conversations about the adaptation with Amazon. The green light for Utopia comes weeks after Jennifer Salke started as the new head of Amazon Studios.
Utopia follows a group of young adults who meet online that are mercilessly hunted by a shadowy deep state organization after they come into possession of a near-mythical cult underground graphic novel. Within the comic’s pages, they discover the conspiracy theories that may actually be real and are forced into the dangerous, unique and ironic position of saving the world.
The series is a co-production between Endemol Shine North America/Kudos and Amazon Studios. Jessica Rhoades, who worked with Flynn on Sharp Objects, will serve as executive producer alongside Flynn. Also executive producing are Kelly, Kudos’ Karen Wilson and Diederick Santer as well as Sharon Hall, former president of Endemol Shine Studios, the scripted arm of Endemol Shine North America. Sharon Levy, President, Unscripted & Scripted Television, Endemol Shine North America, who helped push the project through the final hurdles to a series order, picking up where Hall had left off, will oversee production for Endemol Shine.
The original Utopia series premiered on Channel 4 in 2013 and ran for two seasons. It was praised for its style and visuals while also raising concerns for its violence that included a school shooting. You can watch a trailer below:
Flynn is repped by WME.