EXCLUSIVE: Following a heated bidding war, Universal Pictures has landed the rights to an adaptation of the graphic novel The Electric State with Millie Bobby Brown attached to star and Joe and Anthony Russo on board to direct. The Russos will also produce through their AGBO banner. Mike Larocca will also produce under AGBO. The package went out to buyers earlier this week and Universal was quick to acquire the highly-coveted property.
AGBO first landed the rights in 2017 with plans to develop along with Andy and Barbara Muschietti, with Andy circling the directors chair. With the Muschiettis focused on a Flash movie at Warner Bros., the Russos took over the directing reigns and were quick to tap one of Hollywood’s rising stars in Brown to star. The Muschiettis will still serve as producers. Russell Ackerman and John Schoenfelder are exec producing.Insiders say even though this film is being fast-tracked, Brown’s shooting schedule with a new season of Stranger Things and the Russos directing The Gray Man adaptation next month in Long Beach, make unclear when this would get into production but the hope is between the end of 2021 or the top of 2022.
Based on The Electric State by Simon Stålenhag, the film will be written by AGBO’s Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, the screenwriters who teamed with the Russos on Captain America: Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. The novel is a re-imagined low tech apocalyptic mid 90s vision of the American West, with stunning visual artwork.
Set in an alternative future, it tells the story of a teenage girl (Millie Bobby Brown) who realizes that a strange but sweet robot who comes to her has actually been sent by her missing brother. She and the robot set out to find the brother in an imaginative world of humans mixing with all manner of robots, uncovering a grand conspiracy in the process.
“We’re thrilled to have this deal with Universal who has committed to a theatrical release of Electric State,” said the Russos. “This is incredible news for us as filmmakers, and for audiences around the world who want an opportunity to experience films in theaters again. This is also a positive sign that, as vaccines become available, the theatrical market is returning.”
AGBO has been on a roll as of late starting with 21 Bridges, Extraction, which was one of Netflix’s biggest films of the year, Relic, Mosul, which has done really well globally for Netflix. With Cherry expected to be in the award season mix, the company really has cemented itself as one of the more productive banners in town.
Talking to Deadline, Markus & McFeely were bummed at missing the opportunity to work with the Muschiettis but also excited at the chance to reteam with the Russos once again.
“We’d have Joe and Anthony direct everything that we write and were excited the timing worked out for them to come on as directors,” said McFeely. “What’s nice about this is the themes of Electric State syncs up with their interests in technology and feels like the perfect property for them.”
The project was one of the first things the AGBO began developing after the Endgame production had ended and while both writers say the task of not having Marvel to lean on is daunting, they are also excited to help build this brand new world.
“This is a very human story about a teenage girl with all the powers of a teenage girl and nothing more,” said Markus. “Another thing we are really proud of when it comes to this story is all the major characters, barring one supporting character, are women which is super exciting to be involved in.”
After directing the biggest box-office hit of all-time in Avengers: Endgame, the Russos have been busy setting their slate of non-Marvel related projects. Earlier this year, their next film Cherry, reuniting them with Tom Holland, landed at Apple and is expected to bow in 2021. On top of that, their next directing job, The Gray Man landed at Netflix with Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans set to star. The film will be Netflix’s biggest budgeted production to date and also stars Ana De Armas, Julia Butters, Wagner Moura and Jessica Henwick.
Brown continues to stay busy as well as she is currently shooting the fourth season of the hit Netflix series Stranger Things. On the film side, her Netflix film Enola Holmes, where she plays Sherlock Holmes crime-solving sister, became one of the biggest hits on the streamer in 2020. She also recently attached to the Netflix film Damsel and The Girls I’ve Been and she is producing A Time Lost for the streamer as well. She can next be seen in Godzilla v. Kong.
Markus & McFeely also penned The Gray Man for the Russos as well as recently exec producing the Netflix pic Mosul, which AGBO also produced.
Brown is repped by WME, PCMA Management and Productions and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellman L.L.P., the Russos are repped by CAA and Matt Galsor at Greenberg Glusker. Markus & McFeely are repped by attorney David Colden. The Muschiettis are represented by WME. Stålenhag is represented by The Salomonsson Agency/WME/Keith Fleer, Fleer Law.