Working Title Options TV Rights to Tycoon Robert Maxwell Book ‘Fall’ by ‘The Dig’ Writer John Preston

Tim Bevan Eric Fellner Working Title
Greg Williams for Variety for Variety

Working Title has optioned TV rights to bestselling author John Preston’s ( “A Very English Scandal,” “The Dig”) non-fiction book “Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell.”

The book, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Books, earlier this month, charts British media mogul Robert Maxwell’s rise, fall and mysterious death.

The project, being developed as a limited TV series, will be produced by Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner (pictured). Working Title head of drama Surian Fletcher-Jones will oversee development, with a view to commencing production later this year.

In February 1991, Maxwell had finally outwitted Rupert Murdoch, and completed his purchase of the ailing New York Daily News when he drowned at sea just nine months later, having fallen off his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine. The incident could have been an accident, suicide or, as some conspiracists claim, murder, leading to the collapse of his empire and family.

Preston said: “Robert Maxwell is one of the fascinating, complex figures of the 20th Century and I think Working Title are the perfect people to turn it into a television series.”

Preston’s novel, “The Dig,” based on the 1939 archaeological excavation at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, has just been released on Netflix, and stars Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan and Lily James. His first nonfiction book, “A Very English Scandal,” was published to much acclaim in 2016 and turned into a BAFTA and Emmy-winning drama series for the BBC/Amazon.

Working Title has a first look deal with Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, which was renewed in December 2020.

Preston is repped by Yasmin McDonald at United Agents and Natasha Fairweather at Rogers Coleridge & White.