Peter Morgan Reportedly Planning 'Patriots' Film for Netflix

Will Keen as Vladimir Putin and Michael Stuhlbarg as Boris Berezovsky in 'Patriots'

Will Keen as Vladimir Putin and Michael Stuhlbarg as Boris Berezovsky in 'Patriots'

©Matthew Murphy

When Netflix greenlit The Crown in 2014, it was still in its earliest phase of original programming, with high-flying claims about making shows that would never be canceled and projects aimed at proving itself the King of Prestige Television. However, nothing quite hit the heights of ambition like the royal soap: Six seasons were given the go-ahead from the jump, each one to run ten episodes that would cover a decade of the current living ruler of the U.K.'s reign, with three casts full casts to change out every two years, rather than attempting to "age up" one cast over six years of filming. The fact that the show came even close to that initially stated plan is a testament to creator Peter Morgan's determination to see it through. That audiences tuned in the way they did was proof the series, at least in concept, was sound. Naturally, spinoffs have been discussed since the moment the finale arrived.

Six months after Season 6's end, those rumors seem to have coalesced around the conventional wisdom that Morgan would rewind to the past, pre-Edward VIII, whose story was mainly covered throughout The Crown. Currently, theories seem to hold that Morgan will slot himself in between PBS' major historical dramas that involve royalty, Victoria (set in the 1830s and 40s) and Downton Abbey (set in the 1910s and 20s), and set the spinoff at the end of the 1890s, and Victoria's reign, when Edward VII, after decades of wastrel partying, suddenly found himself King.

However, new reports suggest that while that project is in the works, it is not Morgan's priority at the streamer. Instead, Deadline has it that Morgan is readying a film adaptation of his current theatrical production, Patriots. The production wowed audiences when it played in London in 2023 and is now doing a sold-out engagement on Broadway. It should be noted that Netflix funded this move, the streaming service's first time sponsoring a Broadway production.

Like Morgan's other plays, Frost/Nixon and The Audience, Patriots focuses on the machinations of those in power, though instead of America or the U.K., this time Morgan set his sights on Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin. Here's the synopsis:

In 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the new Russia belongs to its oligarchs—and no one is more powerful than billionaire Boris Berezovsky. When an eventual successor to President Boris Yeltsin is needed, Berezovsky turns to the little-known deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, Vladimir Putin. But soon Putin’s ruthless rise threatens Berezovsky’s reign, setting off a riveting, near-Shakespearean confrontation between the two powerful, fatally flawed men.

The late Boris Berezovsky, whose death looked like a suicide but suspected to be otherwise, was originated by Tom Hollander in London but taken over by Michael Stuhlbarg in New York. Will Keen (His Dark Materials) takes on the role of Putin, taking home the Olivier Award in 2023 for his performance tracing Putin's rise. Keen and the show's third co-star, Luke Thallon, who plays real-life Roman Abramovich (owner of the Chelsea Football Club and one of the Russian oligarch ex-pats living in London who have been sanctioned for allegedly working for Putin), both transferred from the London production to Broadway. One assumes Morgan would aim to reteam Hollander, Keen, and Thallon for the film version.

So far, Netflix has declined to confirm or deny the reports, but with the Tonys and the Drama League Awards around the corner and the Patriots up for multiple awards, chances are any announcement will wait for those results first.


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. 

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