The series is co-created and executive produced by Whannell and Tim Walsh (Treadstone) who serves as showrunner. Whannell, coming off writing and directing Blumhouse’s The Invisible Man, is set to direct. Blumhouse Television and UCP are collaborating on the adaptation, which has opened a writers room.
Upgrade the series picks up a few years after the events of the film and broadens the universe with an evolved version of STEM and a new host – imagining a world in which the government repurposes STEM to help curb criminal activity.
In the writers room, which is breaking stories and writing scripts for Upgrade’s first season, Whannell and Walsh are joined by writer-producers Krystal Ziv Houghton and James Roland, who ran the second season of Blumhouse TV’s USA Network horror series The Purge, also an offshoot from a Blumhouse movie title.
Jason Blum and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones of Automatik (Gretel & Hansel, Honey Boy) executive produce Upgrade alongside Whannell and Walsh. The series is a co-production between Blumhouse Television and UCP, a division of NBCUniversal Content Studios, under Blumhouse’s 10-year deal with NBCUniversal.
The film, which Whannell wrote and directed, starred Logan Marshall-Green, Betty Gabriel and Harrison Gilbertson. In it, after his wife is killed during a brutal mugging that also leaves him paralyzed, Grey Trace (Marshall-Green) is approached by a billionaire inventor with an experimental cure in the form of a computer chip implant called STEM. The implant provides its host with heightened physical abilities, allowing Grey to exact revenge on those responsible for his wife’s death. The film was produced for $5 million and grossed more than $16 million at the global box office. It was also the recipient of the 2018 SXSW Audience Award.
The Upgrade series marks Whannell’s TV debut and the first project to come out of the first-look film and TV deal he signed with Blumhouse earlier this year following a 10-year partnership that had yielded seven features, most recently The Invisible Man. The boxoffice smash, starring Elisabeth Moss, grossed over $122 million globally with a 91% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Other successful film collaborations between Whannell and Blumhouse include the Insidious franchise.
Previously, Whannell wrote the first three Saw films, co-creating the lucrative horror franchise with director James Wan. He is repped by CAA and Myman, Greenspan, Fox, Rosenberg, Mobasser, Younger & Light.
Walsh, who served as co-executive producer on USA’s Treadstone and Shooter and NBC’s Chicago P.D., is repped by Paradigm, Pacific View Management and Ziffren Brittenham.
Blumhouse Television and UCP also co-produced USA Network’s The Purge series as well as the upcoming docuseries A Wilderness of Error for FX.