1984 will be coming to the screen once more. wiip, the studio owned by former ABC chief and founder of BBC America, Paul Lee, has obtained rights to the 2013 play adaptation of Orwell’s classic novel in order to produce a five-part miniseries, according to Deadline.
Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, the creators of the stage show, who will serve as executive producers alongside Lee and David Flynn, said that now is the perfect time for the story of 1984 to come through a television.
“As the world grapples with democracy and government in our divided age of surveillance, ‘fake news’ and truth decay, the urgency of Orwell’s masterpiece is undeniable,” Icke and Macmillan said to Deadline. “The small screen feels like a natural home for his portrait of a society in which people trust their screens more than the world outside their windows.”
During its run, the play was noted for its intensity, reportedly leading audience members to fainting and throwing up through its use of loud sounds, special effects and “extreme” torture sequences, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The stars Tom Sturridge (On the Road, Far From the Madding Crowd) and Olivia Wilde (Richard Jewell, TRON: Legacy) even broke a nose and a tailbone respectively, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Macmillan said he and Icke were trying to remain true to both the events of the novel, as well as the real-world events the novel points toward.
“We’re not trying to be willfully assaultive or exploitatively shock people, but there’s nothing here or in the disturbing novel that isn’t happening right now, somewhere around the world: People are being detained without trial, tortured and executed,” Macmillan said to The Hollywood Reporter. “We can sanitize that and make people feel comforted, or we can simply present it without commentary and allow it to speak for itself.”
wiip’s adaptation of 1984 is not the only recent attempt to put 1984 back on the screen. In February, British playwright and screenwriter James Graham (Quiz, Ink) said he was halting his collaborative effort to adapt 1984 with Captain Phillips director Paul Greengrass.
“Paul and I got very excited about it and then [we realized] it’s a difficult project,” Graham said to Deadline. “The book is just so bloody perfect, we started going: ‘Let’s just pause for a second.’ The world of surveillance and tech moves on so quickly, we just needed to have a broader view of it.”
In addition to news of the 1984 adaptation, FX also announced its Danny Boyle-directed Sex Pistols miniseries, Pistol, which is produced by wiip.