Netflix has picked up the Animal Farm movie adaptation that Andy Serkis is attached to direct, with Matt Reeves serving as a producer. This is the second motion-capture driven literary adaptation from Serkis that Netflix has officially acquired in less than a week, after the company's purchase of Mowgli last Friday.
Serkis has been wanting to bring George Orwell's Animal Farm novel - a not-so-thinly veiled allegory for the Bolshevik Revolution and subsequent rise of the Soviet Union - to cinematic life via motion-capture as far back as 2011. He's never given up on the project either, and has kept it on the back-burner at his production studio (The Imaginarium) for the past seven years. During that time, Serkis and Reeves have collaborated on a pair of acclaimed Planet of the Apes films (both starring Serkis as the chimpanzee Caesar), and Serkis, as mentioned earlier, called the shots on Mowgli: a live-action/CGI movie based on Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book.
Following last week's announcement that Netflix has purchased Mowgli, Deadline has now exclusively revealed that Serkis' Animal Farm is also set up at the streaming service. Reeves, who signed a first-look deal with Netflix back in January, is quite complimentary of Serkis in his statement about the development, calling him "truly a force of nature, and a beautiful soul" (among other good things). Serkis is equally celebratory of both Reeves and Netflix in his own statement, and says this is "the very best scenario for our long held passion to bring this fable alive”.
Of course, the situation with Animal Farm is different from that with Mowgli. The latter was already finished - following an extended filming period and post-production - and Warner Bros. was gearing up to release it in theaters this October, before Netflix entered the equation. Animal Farm, on the other hand, will be designed with a global Netflix audience in mind from the ground-up and, thus, may go even further in embracing a dark tone than Serkis' PG-13 Jungle Book re-imagining. That's quite fitting too, seeing as Orwell's source material is, in many ways, a more savage animal fable than Kipling's tale about Mowgli the man-cub's coming of age.
As for Netflix: Serkis and Reeves are but two of the big name storytellers that they now have in their corner. The company is far from done taking big swings at dominating the film industry, either. In addition to spending billions of dollars on original movies and TV shows this year alone, Netflix could have a legitimate Oscar contender in its pocket with the Coen Brothers' western anthology series-turned film Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which will compete at the Venice Film Festival in about four weeks. However that bid works out, the acquisition of both Mowgli and Animal Farm only further ensures that the future will stay bright for the streaming giant.
We will bring you additional details on Animal Farm as they come to light.