After his successful TV debut with Netflix’s House Of Cards, David Fincher is spearheading the U.S. adaptation of another British series, this time at HBO. The pay cable network, which aggressively pursued House Of Cards when it was shopped, has teamed with Fincher for Utopia, a drama series project based on the Channel 4 series created by Dennis Kelly and produced by Kudos. Fincher is set to direct the adaptation, which will be written by Gillian Flynn, reteaming with Fincher whose upcoming feature Gone Girl is based on her novel. Both Gone Girl and Utopia are in the thriller genre. The series revolves around the die-hard fans of an iconic, underground graphic novel who are suddenly launched into their own pop-culture thriller when they learn that the author has secretly written a sequel. Unfortunately, the new manuscript is much more than just a book and those on the hunt for it suddenly find themselves in a game of shifting loyalties, conspiracy and shocking twists as the true meaning of the book is slowly revealed (watch a trailer for the original series below).
UPDATED: In a competitive situation, Fox has picked up Utopia, a new social experiment reality series from Big Brother creator John de Mol and his Talpa Media US. The project is based on a format by de Mol that successfully launched in the Netherlands earlier this month, sparking a lot of interest among U.S. networks. It marks the first series greenlighted by Fox’s new head of alternative Simon Andreae. The show is eyed for a summer launch but that has not been set in stone and will depend on how quickly the network and de Mol select a location and a cast.
Utopia will feature a group of 15 everyday people whisked to an isolated, undeveloped location in the U.S. – for an entire year – and challenges them to create their own civilization. Like the original, the series is envisioned to last a year but its length will depend on what happens in Utopia. “One of the key things we liked about the idea is that is very bold and open,” Andreae said. “They have the opportunity to create a society, and we don’t know to what degree they will succeed — will it be harmonious, or will there be a revolution or another event that will put an end to it?” Like on Big Brother, there will be eliminations. As the Utopians build the new society, each contestant must try to become indispensable to the group or risk being exiled to their regular lives and replaced by potential newcomers. (The original series has new participants joining at part of the elimination process, but it has not been determined whether the Fox version will feature that.) Cameras will follow the pioneers 24/7, with their efforts chronicled weekly on Fox and also online (and possibly on cable). The online component of the original series has been very successful, something the producers will try to replicate in the U.S.
Is This The Next Hot Reality Format? John De Mol’s Social Experiment ‘Utopia’ Off To Strong Start In Holland, Heads To U.S.
With the talent competition arena pretty saturated by Fox’s American Idol and The X Factor, NBC’s The Voice and America’s Got Talent, soon to be joined by ABC’s Rising Star, and the cooking broadcast market cornered by Gordon Ramsay, reality industry insiders have been tipping social experiments as the next hot unscripted genre. Now the man behind the most successful social experiment format to date, Big Brother creator John de Mol, is throwing his hat into the ring with his latest series, Utopia, in which 15 people set up their own new society. Like he does with most of his formats, which include global hit The Voice and Deal Or No Deal, de Mol launched Utopia in his native Holland, where the show premiered Monday night on SBS 6, part of SBS Broadcasting’s Dutch operations, in which de Mol’s Talpa Media has a 33% stake. The debut exceeded expectations, ranking as SBS 6′s highest-rated nonscripted premiere in six years. It won its time slot and pulled a 25.2% share in adults 18-49, improving the network’s market share in the time period by 500%, and drew almost 1.6 million overall viewers compared to SBS’ average viewership in the slot of 300,000. I hear at least one US network already has reached out to the Utopia producers, with Talpa Media USA’s chief creative officer Stijn Bakkers, executive producer of The Voice, and SVP Sadoux Kim expected to begin meeting with American broadcasters early next week about an U.S. version.
Social experiments formats have been heating up, with former Fox reality topper Mike Darnell also said to be shopping a series in that arena with Shed’s Twenty Twenty. In Utopia, 15 contestants leave their current lives to create their own ideal mini-society while being followed by hundreds of cameras. (Watch a trailer in Dutch below.)