It really is quite surprising just how respected the art of television has become. There was once a time when those who plied their trade on the big screen – whether in front of or behind the camera – avoided working on the small screen like the plague. Going from film to TV was seen as a clear step down and a sign that one’s career was on the decline. That’s certainly not the case today, as critically acclaimed dramas like Breaking Bad, True Detective, House of Cards, Game of Thrones, and Hannibal have served to make the TV world as prestigious a place to work as any Hollywood film set.
With that said, it’s hardly a surprise that yet another powerhouse filmmaker is preparing to carve their niche into the TV drama landscape. David Fincher – director of films like Fight Club and The Social Network – has signed on to helm the entire first season of the upcoming HBO drama Utopia.
For those unaware, Utopia will be a remake of an action-thriller series of the same name that airs on the U.K.’s Channel 4. The plot of both shows concerns a group of people that come into possession of the unpublished sequel to an underground graphic novel called “The Utopia Experiments.” That book is said to have predicted countless disasters, and the sequel may very well do the same. Unfortunately, a shadowy collective known as The Network has reason to ensure that these catastrophes take place as scheduled and will stop at nothing to retrieve the sequel’s manuscript and silence its possessors.
The U.K. version of Utopia has aired two six-episode seasons so far, and has yet to be officially canceled or renewed for a third. HBO, on the other hand, hasn’t announced how many episodes Utopia’s first stateside season will consist of. Utopia marks Fincher’s second creative collaboration with author Gillian Flynn, who penned the novel that Fincher’s forthcoming film Gone Girl is based on.
While Fincher began his career by directing dozens of music videos, his only prior experience working in the TV drama realm is helming the first two episodes of Netflix’s aforementioned House of Cards. Directing the entirety of Utopia season 1 represents a kind of project that the iconoclastic auteur has never before attempted. The production is expected to consume nearly all of Fincher’s time in 2015, and the director has yet to make up his mind as to what his next film will be afterward.
With Fincher serving as both an executive producer and personally directing every episode, Utopia may end up being audiences’ most direct peek into the man’s complex mind to date. Constructing and visually telling a story over the course of a few hours is one thing. Overseeing the development of a full TV season should present a maverick director like Fincher the chance to spread his creative wings and make sure every detail is exactly the way he envisions it.
That approach seems to be working out well for fellow auteur Steven Soderbergh, who is currently enjoying a successful run on Cinemax’s The Knick. If things go well for Fincher, we may truly have a trend on our hands.
Utopia is slated to begin shooting in 2015, but has no current premiere date.