Andy Serkis to Begin Filming ‘Animal Farm’ in 2014

Published 1 year ago by , Updated April 15th, 2014 at 11:23 am,

Animal Farm Four legs good Andy Serkis to Begin Filming Animal Farm in 2014

Joy Batchelor and John Halas’ 1954 adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm might look like a children’s film at first glance, populated as it is with cartoon animals, but this bleak political allegory does not make for light-hearted Saturday morning viewing. Made during (and partially shaped by, thanks to financing from the CIA) the height of Cold War tension, the film is definitely worth watching as a product of its time.

The first live action version of the story was released in 1999 as a TV movie, featuring creature effects from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and a pretty impressive voice cast that included Kelsey Grammer, Patrick Stewart and the late Pete Postlethwaite. The next Animal Farm, however, will be a blend of animation and live action performances from the world’s most prominent proponent of motion capture technology.

In 2011, actor and producer Andy Serkis opened his own performance capture studio, The Imaginarium, and shortly thereafter announced that one of its first major projects would be an adaptation of Animal Farm from Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt, with Serkis set to produce and star. Since then, however, Serkis has taken a turn at second unit directing on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and is now set to direct Animal Farm himself.

Andy Serkis filming performance capture for Rise of the Planet of the Apes Andy Serkis to Begin Filming Animal Farm in 2014

In an interview with Screendaily, Serkis has revealed that he has already started pre-vis work on Animal Farm from the comfort of his trailer (via Skype) on the set of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, explaining that, “In the virtual world [pre-vis] in many instances means you’ve already started shooting the film.” While both Serkis and The Imaginarium have experience transforming human performances into animal ones, the divide that Animal Farm will have to cross is a lot wider than the one between ape and human:

“What we’re trying to do is fairly unique. It’s going to be entirely performance captured, so rather than photographing real animals and showing them with talking mouths, it will all be generated by the interaction between the actors playing those roles… the physicality and facial expressions of all the animals will come directly from actors’ performances.

“The design for those has to work in a particular way and it’s a particular heightened design look we’re going for. We also have to find a balancing aesthetic for the environment in which we situate the characters. We’re experimenting shooting with live action plates but with a heightened design…it’s not just shooting in a field.”

Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis on the set of The Hobbit Andy Serkis to Begin Filming Animal Farm in 2014

Serkis necessarily had to remain a little cagey about some of the details, but he was open about the fact that Animal Farm has not yet been picked up by a major studio, explaining that it will be produced as an independent movie until such time as another studio becomes involved. The budget has been set at $50 million and a “great cast” has already been finalized. An equity partner for the film has been secured and a handful of pre-sales were secured before there was even a script for it.

Last year Serkis stated his intention to begin shooting Animal Farm by the end of 2013, but due to the amount of pre-production required and Serkis’ other commitments that schedule has been revised. Principal photography is now set to take place in the middle or third quarter of 2014, meaning that (barring any further delays) Serkis’ Animal Farm will most likely arrive in theaters some time in 2016.

Since it will apparently reshape Orwell’s story in a way that will satirize modern targets, this contemporary update of the tale is sure to be an intriguing feature directorial debut for Serkis.


We’ll keep you updated on Animal Farm as the project develops.

Source: Screendaily

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  1. ugh, this book messed me up as a kid. Watching the scene with Boxer in live action? No thanks, I’m going to maintain my emotional stability.

  2. im ready…

  3. I wonder if they’ll keep the book’s ending…

  4. It wasn’t a comic book done in the last ten years so this post will only get about ten responses……..

    • So sad that this is the case.

    • I would’ve commented when it was first posted but I’ve never read the book and thankfully haven’t seen previous adaptions.

      I say thankfully because upon reading an article about them, I found out they changed a lot of things, plus I’d have nothing to compare to when I see this version.

      • Sure you do. Just read the book. You can pick it up cheap at any paperback reseller. Its a small book. I first read it as an 8th grader as it was on my summer reading list. Oh how I hated having to do schoolwork over summer vacation! But this book got my attention so much I read the entire thing straight thru in about 3 hours. The story has stuck with me all my life. I am now 63.

  5. Very intrigued, love Serkis’ work, fantastic actor. With his second unit directing on The Hobbit, I think he can make for a fantastic director too! He certainly knows his motion/performance capture too, he’s pretty much the go-to-go guy for it!

  6. never cared for the book. It was too blunt. There was no hiding that it was about communism. It was so obvious. I can believe animals revolting and forming their own government, but it plays out like a text book of abusive power. it was predictable and emotionally disconnected.

    i do love Serkis and the filming style is very intriguing, so this is something i’m looking forward too, or at least interested in.

    • The book was intended as a satire of Stalin.

  7. I didn’t even know postlethwaite had passed. :( RIP

  8. Oh, how I hope this happens…Serkis and a fantastic novel about the power and danger of trust and the abuse of power…? DEFINITELY, they belong together in a film!


  9. So awesome, can’t wait.

  10. Though I am very much interested in this attempt, I am not sure how much we can relate the Animal Farm with the current political scenario. Not sure how he is going to connect with motion-capturing film audience with such a grim and depressing story.

    • You’re kidding, right?

      Given all the various problems the world is experiencing (secrets exposed with increasing regularity, seemingly appealing–to the terrorists and their recruits–terrorism, uncertain economies, ecological anomalies and concerns, unfriendly governments, etc.), a novel like ANIMAL FARM is perfectly timed to make its reentry into the cinematic universe.

    • Even though Animal Farm is a metaphor for Communism, it can be applied to any political system when it becomes corrupt.

  11. Awesome. I love Animal Farm, and I ADORE Andy Serkis. Looking forward to seeing what he does with this film. Although I’m not crazy about the idea of waiting until 2016. Argh.

  12. Please soundtrack this entire film with and set the action and scenes to Pink Floyd’s “Animals”

  13. what a great idea, animal farm – modern references. priceless. i wonder how much fun it will be for them to make this and poke fun at today’s politicians and current society. it will be a blast to watch.

  14. I just finished Animal Farm in my English class and was excited to hear about a new & hopefully good adaptation, but this? The story will be modernized… That’s not such a great idea. Although it may get some people’s attention, modernizing stories really ages them in the long run. Sure, there are things that have become irrelevant from the original story, but the messages at heart were timeless! Re-creating the story this way will only help to make this film forgettable and unrelatable in the years ahead.