Syfy to Develop 4-Hour Miniseries Adaptation of Philip K. Dick's 'The Man in the High Castle'

Categories: Network TV Press Releases

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February 11th, 2013

via press release:





New York, NY – February 11, 2013 — Syfy has finalized a deal to adapt Philip K. Dick’s Hugo Award-winning novel The Man In The High Castle into a 4-hour miniseries event with Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files, Hunted) attached to write and serve as Executive Producer, it was announced today by Mark Stern, President of Original Content, Syfy and Co-Head Original Content, Universal Cable Productions. Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions will produce the project with Headline Pictures, Electric Shepherd Productions and FremantleMedia International. Spotnitz will write the first two hours and supervise the writing of the second two hours (writer TBA).
Producers Ridley Scott and Stewart Mackinnon bring us a startling depiction of an alternate history as imagined by author Philip K. Dick in his best-selling novel; a world in which Nazi Germany and Japan were victorious in World War II. The year is 1962 and the Axis Powers occupy the United States, where fascism rules and the few surviving Jews hide under assumed names.

“Alternate history stories are part of an amazing and intricate genre of sci-fi,” said Mark Stern President of Original Content, Syfy and Co-Head, Original Content, Universal Cable Productions. “When done well, there’s nothing better; and I can’t think of better creative talent to bring Philip K. Dick’s fascinating alternate-history thriller to life than Ridley Scott and Frank Spotnitz.”

“Ridley Scott is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers and this is one of my all-time favorite books,” added Spotnitz, “so I am incredibly honored and thrilled to have this opportunity.”

The Man in The High Castle is one of Dick’s most imaginative and captivating works and certainly one of my favorites. I am pleased to team up with the singular Frank Spotnitz and Syfy, Headline Pictures, Electric Shepherd and FremantleMedia International to bring this epic to audiences who will find this story as intriguing and riveting as we do.” said Ridley Scott.

Stewart Mackinnon of Headline Pictures commented, “Philip K. Dick’s classic thriller asks us all to consider what we would do if our world was turned upside down and everything we value is lost. It’s a chilling story that explores our universal hopes and fears.”

The Man in the High Castle is one of the most highly-regarded and influential novels my father wrote. It’s thrilling to be bringing it to life with such a talented, passionate team, and in a format that can do justice to the full scope of the material,” said Isa Dick Hackett, founder of Electric Shepherd Productions along with her sister Laura Leslie.


FremantleMedia International will distribute the series globally and this project is the latest in a series of drama development news coming from the global production and distribution company whose drama investment activity is ramping up. In addition to The Man in The High Castle, FremantleMedia International is working with Headline Pictures, Scott Free Productions and Mark Sennett Entertainment to develop The Drivers. It has also recently announced partnerships with renowned writer / producer Marshall Herskovitz to oversee development of the popular non-fiction book Hitlerland; and the adaptation of the New York Times bestseller The Maid with Pukeko Pictures and award-winning writer Craig Pearce.

David Ellender, CEO FremantleMedia International and Kids & Family Entertainment, said, “When we launched our drama initiative we did so with the goal of bringing together the best producers, writers and broadcasters in the world to create the highest quality and most compelling dramas for global audiences. The Man in the High Castle is exactly this and we look forward to bringing it to screens in the US and beyond.”


Dick’s works have been the basis for blockbuster movies such as the Ridley Scott directed, Blade Runner (1982) a remake of which is in the works, as well two versions of Total Recall (1990) and (2012), Minority Report (1992) and Adjustment Bureau (2011). King of the Elves is currently in development at Walt Disney Animation. One of the most celebrated authors of the last century, Philip K Dick was published in the Library of America in 2007 and has received literary recognition unprecedented for a contemporary science fiction writer. His more than 40 novels and 125 short stories have been translated into 25 languages.

  • cimmer

    I hate the way Syfy execs are always trying to explain or ‘justify’ their projects as being ‘scifi’.

    “Alternate history stories are part of an amazing and intricate genre of sci-fi,” said Mark Stern President of Original Content, Syfy and Co-Head, Original Content, Universal Cable Productions.”

    Those of us who actually are interested in scifi already know that. It’s that mindset at Syfy that hurts them more than anything. It’s been obvious for years that the people running the show think scifi/fantasy/horror are for the nerds and the execs jobs are trying to convince ‘normal’ people to watch their channel. sigh

    OTH, it sounds like it could be interesting but if it doesn’t do well, once again it will be the fault of the audience and not the fault of anyone at Syfy. Sorry, Monday am grumpies. lol

  • Simon Jester

    @cimmer – “‘Alternate history stories are part of an amazing and intricate genre of sci-fi’… Those of us who actually are interested in scifi already know that.”

    News flash: Press releases are not aimed solely at those already interested in sci-fi.

  • USAmerica1st

    Bravo, Syfy, they should do more of this. Ridley Scott’s Scot Free involvement adds clout to the proceedings.

  • cimmer

    @ Simon Jester, don’t talk down to your audience should be the first rule of any public relations or press release besides which, the audience Syfy wants, i.e. the Cheerios audience (and that’s a paraphrase of a quote from the head of Syfy himself when he was explaining some years ago in a PR that lots of people like scifi, they just didn’t realize they did, you know, “like Transformers” lol)also doesn’t need to be told that ‘alternate history’ is scifi it’s on Syfy, I think your average bear can figure out they’ll be something different about it and they’ll either be interested or not. Syfy’s biggest problem is that a lot of their stuff is drek not that it’s scifi or horror or fantasy, yet the execs often seem to blame the audience by saying scifi is a hard sell or expensive and never themselves for putting out juvenile, sub par entertainment with dodgy production values.

    As I said, I like the idea of the mini series and hope it’s well done and the Ridley Scott attachment gives me hope but it’s amazing, Syfy seems to just suck the life out of even the best folk or their ideas. The Walking Dead would have been great for Syfy – could you honestly see Syfy doing it and doing it well though? How about the BBT? Great idea of the Syfy channel but I don’t think it would even cross their minds. It’s the mindset at the channel that’s the problem, not the genre.

  • Richard Steven Hack

    I’ll probably ignore this since I’m not a big fan of alternate history.

    Alternate histories are NOT “sci-fi” anyway, they’re “fantasy”. Just because a “sci-fi” author – or an author who has written sci-fi – writes a fantasy doesn’t make it sci-fi. Many genre authors write both.

    So this show is consistent with most of SyFy being “fantasy”, not sci-fi. Warehouse 13 for example is by no means “sci-fi”; it’s fantasy, just like Once Upon a Time.

  • cimmer

    @Richard Steven Hack, I would quibble with you but Syfy re-branded itself exactly so that they wouldn’t be constrained to the exact definition of science fiction so…. besides the Syfy execs just seem to label anything a little bit different as ‘scifi’, they don’t seem to know the difference. I suspect they want Orwell’s “1984” to be the same as Stoker’s “Dracula” and “Alice in Wonderland” to be the same as “The Blob” in our minds. Maybe if they thought better of their audience, in the way that FX or AMC often seems to we’d get better product. I wonder, do they even like fantasy/scifi/horror? I’m guessing the answer is ‘no, I’d rather be working at a real cable network’. lol

  • jessica

    Richard Steven Hack, sci-fi is fantasy. One need not be travelling in space 4000 years from now for it to be science fiction.

  • rob

    I don’t care what it’ called. It’s speculative fiction, it’s an excellent book, and I am glad someone is going to make an adaption of it. I can’t wait.

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