George Orwell’s slim but bountifully interpreted novella Animal Farm is getting a new animated big screen treatment with partners Aniventure (Riverdance: The Animated Adventure, Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank) and The Imaginarium. The project, with Andy Serkis directing, was announced in the works in 2012.
Published in 1945 in the wake of Orwell’s experiences in the Spanish Civil War and the rise of Stalin’s totalitarian regime in Soviet Russia, Animal Farm is an allegorical tale about a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer, hoping to create a free and equal society — only to devolve into a state just as bad as before under the dictatorial rule of Napoleon the pig. As the premise declares: “all animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
Serkis (Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle) will direct from a script by Nick Stoller (Storks, Captain Underpants).
“The challenging journey to bring this extraordinary story to the screen has been finally rewarded by the opportunity to partner with the brilliant team at Aniventure and Cinesite,” said Serkis. “Together, we hope to make our version of Orwell’s ever relevant masterpiece, emotionally powerful, humorous and relatable for all ages. A tale not only for our times, but for generations to come.”
The film will be produced by Adam Nagle (Paws of Fury, HITPIG), Dave Rosenbaum (Secret Life of Pets, HITPIG) and Imaginarium’s co-founders Jonathan Cavendish (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Mowgli) and Serkis.
Production is underway at Cinesite (Riverdance, Paws of Fury, HITPIG, The Addams Family 2), which is currently celebrating its 30th Anniversary as a world-leader in animation & VFX. Top talent is being recruited to begin work on the film, and their team is led by producer Connie Thompson (Frankenweenie, Despicable Me 2).
“Ever since 1945, when George Orwell first published Animal Farm, the story has remained relevant and a key instrument in understanding how the world works,” commented producer Nagle. “Andy has had a special talent for creating unique and memorable characters during his remarkable career and we’re thrilled to be working with him, Jonathan and Cinesite to adapt Animal Farm for modern audiences.”
Animal Farm has previously been adapted to a number of mediums since its publication, notably as an adult-targeted animated film in 1954 directed by John Halas and Joy Batchelor (a version in which Napoleon is overthrown by a second revolution) and a 1999 TV movie directed by John Stephenson, featuring animal puppets created by the Jim Henson Creature Shop (also offering a ‘happy ending’ not provided in the original book). Currently, a new stage production is touring the U.K., featuring puppets designed and directed by Toby Olié (Spirited Away stage show).
Aniventure has frequently been in animation headlines of late, with multiple announcements and releases this year, including Mila (Venice Film Festival Humanitarian Award Winner), Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (in theatres this summer) and HITPIG (to be completed later this year).