Utopia Creator Gillian Flynn Explains That Hilarious Gone Girl Reference

utopia john cusack
(Image credit: amazon prime press)
(Image credit: amazon prime press)

One of the timeliest TV shows out there right now is undoubtedly Amazon's Utopia, from its conspiracy-driven characters to the pandemic-related storyline to the "corporation leaders are pretty evil" conceit. That makes it all the more interesting to consider that creator Gillian Flynn first started working on her Americanized adaptation of the UK's Utopia back in 2013. At least one future-leaning moment in the show's first season has not yet become a reality in any form, however. I'm talking, of course, about that highly amusing reference to the faux production of Gone Girl: The Musical.

In the fifth episode, for a scene in which Sasha Lane's Jessica Hyde and Javon Walton's Grant are on their way to the subway in Chicago, the camera pans down the sign for the Chicago Theatre, with its big and bright marquee showing Gone Girl: The Musical as a now-playing option for anyone wanting to take in a more harmony-driven version of the suspenseful thriller. During a recent press event for Utopia, I asked Gillian Flynn what inspired her to add in that nod to her bestselling novel and feature film, and here's how she answered:

Gone Girl: The Musical, I will admit, was literally at the last minute when we had to lock picture. I mean, the amount of time I spent trying to write a fake show to put on that marquee that they walked past. I could not get anything past the rights. Just everything I was doing – Chicago landmarks, and I was doing little nods to little inside jokes – everything I tried, every title, it seemed like the rights were taken and we couldn't get it, or it was too close to something else. And so I finally, at the last minute, said, 'Wait a minute. I know who we can get the rights from. I know who's gonna give us some rights. It's me! Slap that up there.' So that was fun.

Considering that scene so obviously took place in Chicago, I do wonder which other projects she might have been trying to reference on the marquee. Perhaps something from The Blues Brothers or Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Or maybe one of the hundreds of other movies, TV shows, songs, books and other forms of art that pay tribute to the midwestern metro. Lots of choices, but apparently not a lot of chances to get away with referencing them without having to deal with lawyers over rights.

Gillian Flynn continued, saying this is legitimately a concept that she would be interested in bringing to life.

And it is my secret wish to have Gone Girl be a musical. Being a big musical fan, I would love that. The Nick and Amy duet alone will be like the Charlie Manson and 'Squeaky' Fromme duet from Assassins.

There are plenty of actors from the Gone Girl film who could easily make a return to the franchise for a musical. Admittedly, I'm not sure how quickly Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike would jump at the chance, but co-stars such as Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Casey Wilson and more are well seasoned in the musical genre. I guess that doesn't necessarily mean that Gone Girl needs to be readapted to fit that format, but if it happened, it would definitely be worth watching for one reason or another. Particularly if her comparison to Stephen Sondheim's Assassins would be apropos, and to see how it would handle that ending.

Utopia's first season is full of shocking moments, such as that surprising main character death early on (beyond all the other deaths for non-main characters). But that nod to Gone Girl was definitely unlike the others. I wonder if Season 2 happens if she will get try and get a Sharp Objects LEGO set mocked up, or perhaps a Dark Places line of TV dinners.

Utopia Season 1 can be streamed in its entirety right now on Amazon Prime Video, though there is no news yet on whether or not a second season might be on the way. While waiting to hear any follow-ups, stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more info and head to our Fall 2020 TV premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.