Last we heard, Imagine Entertainment's new adaptation of George Orwell's dystopian classic Nineteen Eighty-Four
was "out to writers". Imagine has now finished scouring the Ministry Of Screenplays and have found their man. It's Noah Oppenheim. Double plus good!
The novel, as you know, was written in 1948, and is a satire of the totalitarian regimes of the mid-century. It centers on Winston Smith, a pen-pusher for the Ministry Of Truth, whose job is to rewrite news and history as propaganda for the all-seeing but never-seen political behemoth Big Brother. Smith secretly hates the system, keeping a diary which, if discovered by the Thought Police, would - and does - land him in immense trouble ("Thoughtcrime does not entail death; thoughtcrime is
death"). And he embarks on an affair with the similarly rebellious Julia, until they are discovered and given life-changing appointments in the terrifying Room 101...
Much-studied and massively familiar (to the extent that much of its terminology is now common parlance and the word "Orwellian" has become an adjective in itself), it's surprising to realise that the book hasn't actually been filmed since the version in, you guessed it, 1984, directed by Michael Radford and starring John Hurt and Richard Burton.
This new version has somehow come about via Shepard Fairey, the street artist who famously designed the much-imitated Barak Obama "Hope
" banner in 2008. Quite what his involvement has been remains unclear, but it seems he was instrumental in bringing the project to Imagine (run by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard), and may garner a producer credit. Julie Yorn and her LBI Entertainment had also been seeking the rights, and the two companies have now joined forces.
Oppenheim was a senior producer on NBC's Today show before he moved into screenwriting. He's not yet had a script get as far as the screen, but he's written The Secret Life Of Houdini
for Summit Entertainment, and the developing remakes of Wargames
and Snabba Cash
A studio for Nineteen Eighty-Four
will be set once there's a complete script to show people. Big Empire will be watching, and will bring you further Newspeak in due course.