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Robert Downey Jr beats George Clooney in Black Mirror film rights showdown

Alice Jones' Arts Diary

Robert Downey Jr has beaten George Clooney in a bidding war for the film rights to an episode of Channel 4’s Black Mirror.

Downey Jr will produce a sci-fi thriller based on The Entire History of You, the final instalment of the first series of Charlie Brooker’s dystopian drama which first screened in 2011.

Written by Jesse Armstrong (Peep Show;  Fresh Meat; In the Loop), it imagines a future in which humans are implanted with a memory chip which records everything they do, see or hear. “I always thought this idea could be a film so when I did a deal to write my episode I asked to reserve the film rights”, Armstrong tells me. “A few people were interested... including in the UK, which was very tempting, but in the end I thought we’d done a great version here so [it would be] interesting to see what could be done in the US.”

The Hollywood version will be a “whole new story”, says Armstrong, who will write the screenplay. Downey Jr will produce with Team Downey, the company he runs with his wife, Susan and Warner Bros. In the original, a husband uses his chip to reveal evidence of his wife’s affair; in the new version, he will use it to relive his time with his dead wife, uncovering a major conspiracy in the process. “I developed it here with Charlie [Brooker] and producers Annabel [Jones] and Barney [Reisz] to fit the house style of the Black Mirror and because of budgetary restrictions it became a sort of chamber piece. This will be on a bigger scale.”

As yet, there is no news on casting or release date. “Although I am assured that all scripts that are developed do get made. Hollywood abhors waste”, quips Armstrong.

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