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Andy Serkis Will Make Directorial Debut With ‘Animal Farm’

Andy Serkis Directing Animal Farm
Tim Whitby/Getty Images

Andy Serkis has become synonymous with motion capture performance and for good reason. Just look at his resume: he was Gollum in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films, the title ape himself in ‘King Kong,’ Caesar in ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Captain Haddock in ‘The Adventures of Tin Tin.’ It’s probably safe to say that he knows this kind of filmmaking like the back of his hand. So it’s not surprising that his directorial debut will be a motion capture project, but it’s a little surprising that it will be an adaptation of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’

‘Animal Farm’ will be the first film produced by The Imaginarium, a motion capture studio Serkis founded with producer Jonathan Cavendish. Although this will be Serkis’ first time at the helm of a feature film, he recently completed a stint as a second unit director on Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit‘ trilogy, making him as qualified as anyone to tackle a major production. Not to mention his experience in front of the camera: as a mo-cap actor-turned-director, Serkis will know exactly how to get the best performances possible out of his cast.

Although ‘Animal Farm’ is a familiar title to the millions of Americans who half-read it in high school, it’s a tricky novel to adapt to film. Make it properly, and George Orwell’s scathing satire will unsettle audiences and, hopefully, make people all kinds of uncomfortable (which doesn’t necessarily spell “box office smash”). Try to tone it down or tack on a happy ending and you’ll find fans and admirers of great literature in an uproar. Serkis has quite the task ahead of him: how do you translate and navigate the angry politics of ‘Animal Farm’ while making a movie that’s a major technological ordeal?

In any case, this project needs to happen because the world needs less talking animal films about pratfalls and pop culture references and more talking animal films that are metaphors for the Russian Revolution and the rise of Communism.

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