Ex Machina’s Alex Garland drops some hints about his new FX series

Ahead of the film’s release in just a few weeks, Paramount Pictures and Skydance have released 16 new photos from Annihilation, the upcoming second feature film from director Alex Garland. Check them out in the gallery below!

Lena (Natalie Portman), a biologist and former soldier, joins a mission to uncover what happened to her husband inside Area X – a sinister and mysterious phenomenon that is expanding across the American coastline. Once inside, the expedition discovers a world of mutated landscape and creatures, as dangerous as it is beautiful, that threatens both their lives and their sanity.

From visionary writer and director Alex Garland (Ex Machina, 28 Days Later) and based on the acclaimed best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman (Black Swan, Thor), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight, Anomalisa), Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok, Creed, Dear White People), Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin, Deepwater Horizon) and Tuva Novotny (Eat Pray Love, The Invisible).

The comments come as “Annihilation” opens on February 23rd in U.S. cinemas followed by an almost global non-U.S. release on Netflix in mid-March. The story follows a team of scientists that enters a mysterious region called Area X and discovers a surreal world where nature has taken over in strange ways. Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac and Gina Rodriguez star.

Paramount Pictures and producer Scott Rudin (also a producer on Ex Machina) acquired the movie rights to Jeff VanderMeer’s entire 2014 trilogy. Annihilation, published in February 2014, was followed by Authority in May 2014 and Acceptance in September 2014.

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16 New Annihilation Photos Tease the Trippy Sci-fi Thriller

Garland’s newest film Annihilation sees him staying put in the sci-fi realm. In the movie, a group of soldiers penetrates a zone rendered uninhabitable after an environmental catastrophe. Only one of the soldiers (Oscar Isaac) returns, but he’s on the verge of death. The soldier’s biologist wife (Natalie Portman) then volunteers to return to the forbidden realm, which is dominated by a mysterious phenomenon called “The Shimmer.” Once inside the zone, Portman and her team discover bizarre mutant creatures that continuously evolve.

Alex Garland’s love of sci-fi will continue to inform his choices after Annihilation. For his next project, the writer/director will develop an eight-part sci-fi series for FX network. Garland says he has written the episodes and hopes to direct all of them himself. Garland discussed the project in an interview with Fandango:

“The next project, provided it happens — hopefully we’re gonna shoot it later this year — [and it’s] an eight-part television series for FX. It’s a sort of science fiction, but it’s a much more technology based sci fi whereas Annihilation is a more hallucinogenic form of sci fi and more fantastical form of sci fi.”

Don’t expect any story details this early in the game. Garland does say the new series will have more in common with Ex Machina and Never Let Me Go in how it starts with something going on in our world and extrapolates into the sci-fi realm. This in contrast to Annihilation, which finds Garland in more of a pure fantasy area of sci-fi/horror reminiscent of Alien and The Thing.

As for the future of Annihilation as a franchise, Garland says there are no plans for a sequel. While American audiences get to experience Annhilation on the big screen, most of the rest of the world will not, thanks to the studio’s deal with Netflix. Garland himself expressed disappointment at Paramount’s decision to handle international distribution via Netflix. The move came after some at the studio wanted Garland to make changes to the film for fear that it would prove “too intellectual” for audiences. But executive producer Scott Rudin stood behind Garland’s cut, which reportedly includes a “mind-blowing” ending.

More: Ex Machina Director’s Annihilation Has ‘Mind-Blowing’ Ending

For what it’s worth, the cerebral Annhilation is getting very positive early buzz. Seemingly, Alex Garland’s reputation as a modern-day master of sci-fi will only continue to grow. Now we’ll see what he can do on the small screen with eight hours of television to work with. FX has a reputation for giving creatives lots of freedom. That’s great news for fans of Garland and his brand of thoughtful sci-fi.

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