Andy Serkis to Helm Performance Capture 'Animal Farm' Adaptation

October 19, 2012
Source: THR

Andy Serkis / Animal Farm

He's Gollum, Ceasar, next he may be Napoleon. The pig, not the French emperor. After finishing work as second unit director on The Hobbit, THR reports that Andy Serkis is now lined up to direct a performance capture-based retelling of George Orwell's 1945 novel Animal Farm. The adaptation is developing at a London company called The Imaginarium, a performance capture studio founded by Serkis and producer Jonathan Cavendish last year. Serkis won't say whether he'll also perform as an animal ("it might well be that I do, but nothing is set in stone yet") but does say "I think we found a rather fresh way of looking at it."

For those unaware, or perhaps those who skipped out on reading George Orwell's Animal Farm while in school, the story is about a group of talking farm animals and their social hierarchy, acting as an allegory for the events leading up to and during the Stalin era before WWII. Serkis explains that they have a "fresh" take on it, confirming that "it is definitely using performance capture but we are using an amalgamation of filming styles to create the environmments." He goes on to say that they're still "in proof of concept stage at the moment, designing characters and experimenting on our stage with the designs" and that he, himself as the director, is currently "fixed on the creation of the characters and world from a directorial point of view."

Serkis spoke to THR quite a bit about the new project, adding: "We're keeping it fable-istic and [aimed at] a family audience. We are not going to handle the politics in a heavy-handed fashion. It is going to be emotionally centered in a way that I don’t think has been seen before. The point of view that we take will be slightly different to how it is normally portrayed and the characters—we are examining this in a new light." I'm intrigued, mostly because Serkis is brilliant and I trust him. "We are not discounting the use of keyframe animation or puppeteering parts of animals. We are in an experimental phase; it's terribly exciting."

The update doesn't name a writer for the screenplay, but does specifically state that "Cavendish and Serkis will produce." It was back in late 2010 when we first reported that Andy Serkis was getting into directing, as he setup his first feature at his other production company "Caveman Films", which was also created by Cavendish (maybe they changed the name to The Imaginarium?). From there, he went on to film The Hobbit down in New Zealand, both playing Gollum and working as second unit director on the entire three-movie trilogy. He's also still set to play Caesar again in the Rise of the Planet of the Apes sequel. Quite a career and it only gets better as he keeps evolving! We'll keep you updated on Animal Farm and all things Andy Serkis.

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  • junglejim
    shoulda done it stop motion
  • a professor once told me Animal Farm was antiquated and irrelevant. I said his comment was asinine. I was right. as for the movie, I think it's a bad idea, but this is firstshowing so who one cares what I type.
    • LosZombies
      tittysprinkles. yep, no one cares.
    • somebody needs a hug
  • heyheyhey
    love this book!!!... but a movie.... ill tell you one thing... it will be interesting
  • I'm interested as I love the book. I hope they don't dilute it though.
  • Richie G
    "aimed at a family audience"? This story's entire message is tied up in how vicious it gets. I dunno about this
  • Chris Batty
    Yaaawn. Could they have thought of a more tired old idea to spend millions on?
  • I can't really see Andy Serkis doing wrong. He's rooted in theater so a performance like this with a large cast can truly be something we haven't seen before... which is good considering all the non-original movies being released.
  • DeJardin
    The time is stop this absurd notion that Serkis's motion capture performance is directly translated to CGI. Joe Letteri gave a talk at Siggraph and revealed that the motion capture performance requires a significant amount of adjustments and re-keying by talented animators. It's disrespectful to them to think that they can be replaced by motion capture.
    • axalon
      THANK YOU. When I heard that there was a push to get Serkis nominated for an Oscar over his performance in 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes', I thought "if he wins, all the artists and animators need to win too because this is definitely not a one-man process."
  • castingcouch
    Don't start with the "Oscar!" talk again.
  • "We are not going to handle the politics in a heavy-handed fashion" Then whats the point? The book was a political satire, that was its point. Why not just make a mo-cap movie about the life of farm animals?
  • Steven
    Wan't he King Kong as well?




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