Amazon Studios has picked up Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn’s adaptation of Utopia, an adaptation of the cult TV show from the UK’s Channel 4. Variety reports that the studio has ordered a nine-episode first season in a direct-to-series order, and it has signed Flynn to an overall deal for additional projects.
The two-season show, which originally aired from 2013–2014, garnered critical acclaim and a devoted fan base before its abrupt cancellation. It follows a group of people who obtain a manuscript of the sequel of a cult graphic novel called The Utopia Experiments, which is thought to have predicted some of the world’s worst disasters. As the characters try and find clues of other potential looming disasters, they’re targeted by a mysterious organization called The Network. In February 2014, prior to Channel 4’s cancellation of the show, HBO ordered its own adaptation of the series, with Flynn attached to write and House of Cards and Gone Girl director David Fincher set to direct. However, that adaptation fell through in 2015 due to disputes between Fincher and HBO over the budget for the series, which was set to star Girl With The Dragon Tattoo actress Rooney Mara. While the project has a new life at Amazon with Flynn, it doesn’t appear that Fincher is involved in this adaptation.
Last year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos ordered the studio to begin developing new “high-end drama series with a global appeal,” to better compete with other streaming competitors such as HBO, Netflix, and Hulu, and it announced that it was developing adaptations of classic science fiction novels Ringworld and Snow Crash. Since then, it’s added to that slate: a show set in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth (and maybe Peter Jackson’s franchise), Iain M. Banks’ space opera Consider Phlebas (which is incidentally being adapted by the writer of the original Utopia series, David Kelly), and William Gibson’s science fiction novel The Peripheral. The company has a huge potential audience for its original shows. Jeff Bezos announced yesterday that Amazon Prime boasts over 100 million subscribers, while Reuters reported in March that around a quarter of that number streams its videos in the US.