Showtime’s upcoming slate carries a slew of ambitious new series that run the gamut from comedy and comic books to the more tried-and-true genre of the crime drama. Now, John Wells, producer of the dysfunctional family drama Shameless, is looking to bring another overseas success to the network by adapting the award-winning Australian film Animal Kingdom.
Released in 2010, the film focuses on a family of career criminals, based on the notorious real-life Pettingill family. In Animal Kingdom, Jacki Weaver headed a fictionalized version of the family with Joel Edgerton (Warrior, The Thing), Sullivan Stapleton (Strike Back) and Ben Mendelsohn (Knowing, Killer Elite), while Guy Pearce (upcoming: MS One: Maximum Security) played the detective determined to bring them down.
The film was the directorial debut of David Michod (Hesher), and was nominated for a whopping 18 Australian Film Institute awards and went on to win the dramatic jury prize for world cinema at the Sundance Film Festival. Jacki Weaver also received a best supporting actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Janine ‘Smurf’ Cody.
Wells plans to bring the series to Showtime to depict the the Cody/Pettingill clan’s crime empire and law enforcement’s efforts to rein them in. Michod will serve as producer alongside Wells who has brought in his Southland writer and executive producer Jonathan Lisco to help script the series’ pilot.
While the family it is based on, and the film from which the series will get its inspiration are Australian based, there is no word yet on whether Wells and Lisco plan to keep Animal Kingdom in its original Melbourne venue, or if the location will be altered to take place somewhere in the United States. Given the factual significance of the land down under, it would seem an odd choice for the program to shift its setting, but that may not ultimately affect much in terms of storytelling.
Certainly, as casting and actual production get underway it will become clearer which country will serve as the backdrop for the series.
More importantly, however, Animal Kingdom helps solidify the network’s retooled focus on drama. Under the guidance of new President of Entertainment David Nevins, Showtime’s goal is to better compete with the critical darlings Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones of rival pay-cable network HBO. So far, Showtime is ushering in pilots for Ray Donovan, starring Liev Schreiber (Wolverine) and Masters of Sex with Paul Bettany, as well as adaptations of comic books Chew, 1oo Bullets and The Damned.
History’s criminals have been paying off for HBO and Showtime, as of late. With the addition of Animal Kingdom this will mark the second Showtime series that covers the nefarious exploits of a real family, the other being The Borgias starring Jeremy Irons. Season 2 of the Neil Jordan papal drama gets underway early next year, following season 2 of Wells’ Shameless, which premieres January 8, 2012.
Screen Rant will follow the development of Animal Kingdom and report as news warrants.