EXCLUSIVE: Days after acquiring his film Mowgli from Warner Bros, Netflix has doubled down with Andy Serkis by acquiring rights to the George Orwell novel Animal Farm. Serkis will direct a performance-capture film. 6th & Idaho’s Matt Reeves, Rafi Crohn and Adam Kassan will produce with The Imaginarium’s Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish.
The Netflix deal reunites Serkis with Reeves after they worked together on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes. Reeves made an overall Netflix deal in January.
Orwell’s allegorical novella was published in 1945, and the author said it was informed by the Russian revolution of 1917 and the subsequent Stalinist regime of the Soviet Union. If you didn’t read it in school, the premise involves a group of animals who rebel against the humans who own their farm and win their independence. The architects of the revolution create a utopian environment based on equality, but a pig named Napoleon twists the original intent, slowly eliminates his rivals and enacts seven commandments — the basic of which declares that “all animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
Serkis and Cavendish have wanted to make this movie for years, and Serkis originally planned to play a role in the film when the Imaginarium first made a rights deal with the George Orwell Estate in 2012.
“We are incredibly excited to have finally found the perfect creative home in Netflix for this extraordinarily zeitgeist work by George Orwell,” Serkis said in a statement. “On top of that, to be re-united with my great friend Matt Reeves — with his acute sensitivity, storytelling intelligence and honesty and command in this realm — is to have the very best scenario for our long-held passion to bring this fable alive.”
Cavendish said the intention is to bring “Animal Farm to the screen in a thoroughly contemporary fashion, which will highlight the staggering relevance today of the satirical and dramatic power of Orwell’s re-imagined classic.”
Said Reeves: “Andy is such an incredible artist — he is truly a force of nature and a beautiful soul. To be able to work with him again and with Jonathan and Netflix to see Orwell’s classic tale brought to life in a totally new and exciting way is an absolute dream.”
Orwell’s estate was repped by literary executor Bill Hamilton of A.M. Heath, St. John Donald of United Agents and Phil Rymer of Lewis Silkin. The Imaginarium is repped by John Garvey of CAA, Larry Taube of Principal Entertainment and Pam Black of Ziffren Brittenham, and Reeves is with CAA, 3 Arts and Jackoway Tyerman.