Reel One Entertainment has picked up the rights to author Philip K. Dick’s “Second Variety,” with David Titcher (“Houdini and Doyle”) adapting the novella for television.
Reel One has also added British drama executive Dominic Schreiber to its ranks as it pushes further into scripted series, an initiative announced earlier this year when Adam Fratto (“Cleverman”) joined the company.
Projects based on sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick’s work are in vogue, with “Bladerunner 2049” well reviewed, and Amazon and Channel 4 anthology series “Electric Dreams” bowing on the small screen.
“Second Variety” follows events after the U.S. develops a military weapon with artificial intelligence to defeat its adversaries but finds that the lethal killing machines eventually take on a life of their own and threaten to wipe out humanity. On the big screen, it was adapted in 1995 as Peter Weller movie “Screamers.”
“What’s exciting is the prescience of Dick’s novella,” Fratto told Variety. “What he grapples with here is the military and what happens when military technology gets out of control.”
Fratto said that the story tapped into modern-day concerns, such as those voiced by Elon Musk, about the potential pitfalls of advancing artificial intelligence, and that another recent news story, about two Facebook bots that started communicating with one another, underline the contemporary relevance of “Second Variety.”
Titcher will pen the series and will executive produce alongside Antony I. Ginnane (“Patrick”). Charles W. Fries (“Martian Chronicles”) helped tee up the series, and his Fries Film Company will produce with Reel One.
Fratto joined the production company earlier this year, after having overseen “Mary Kills People” for Lifetime, signaling a drive into series. Reel One has hitherto been better-known as a TV movie business.
Reel One is based in Montreal with offices in L.A. and London. Schreiber will be based in the U.K. office, with a focus on working with broadcasters and partners in Europe. He was most recently at Motion Content Group and was an executive producer on Sky’s “The Last Dragonslayer.” Prior to that, he worked on international drama at British broadcaster Channel 4, including on the acclaimed sci-fi series “Humans.”