Prospects appear grim for Utopia, HBO’s drama pilot from David Fincher, an adaptation of the Channel 4 series created by Dennis Kelly. The issue I hear is budgetary, as the director and the pay cable network are yet to agree on a budget for the high-profile, big-scope project. The pilot already has cast a number of actors, including Fincher’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo star Rooney Mara, though all deals are contingent on a budget agreement, which has not been reached yet and chances are getting slimmer.  (Some numbers I heard mentioned — north of $100 million as the lowest Fincher would go for the series, while HBO’s highest offer was pegged at $95 million, with the two sides not able to close the gap). I hear HBO executives want very much to be in the David Fincher business and are hoping for a hail mary pass but odds appear slim at this point. UPDATE 6 PM: Still no official word from HBO, but I hear that some of the actors cast in Utopia have been released, indicating that the pilot may indeed be dead.

hbologoI hear the plan had been for Fincher to finish prepping Utopia before resuming work on his other HBO project, 1980s comedy Videosynchrazy, whose production was halted for additional script work. Fincher is a very hands-on filmmaker, so no writing can be done without his involvement. That series also reportedly had been dealing with some budget-related issues as overages had been reported during filming. The crew of the series has been released, and many already have lined up new jobs.

Utopia revolves around the die-hard fans of an iconic, underground graphic novel who are suddenly launched into their own pop-culture thriller when they learn that the author has secretly written a sequel.

HBO previously came close to a David Fincher series when it was pursuing his drama House of Cards. The pay cable network offered a pilot and was outbid by Netflix, which committed $100 million for 26 episodes.