After years of waiting, Netflix will finally release its adaptation of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies in 2024. That will only happen after some minor additional filming and reshoots are planned. Here’s the lowdown on everything to know about McG’s next movie for Netflix starring Joey King.
Netflix’s Uglies will be directed by McG (Joseph McGinty Nichol), whose credits include Charlie’s Angels and Terminator Salvation. The writer/director is also a frequent collaborator with Netflix as well, working on The Babysitter, Rim of the World, and most recently, Family Switch.
The script for Uglies was penned by Emmy-nominated screenwriters Krista Vernoff (Grey’s Anatomy, Shameless, Charmed) and Vanessa Taylor (The Shape of Water, Game of Thrones, Divergent).
The project was first announced back in September 2020 when it was attached to Netflix. Adaptations had been in development before landing on Netflix, with it previously set up under Fox. According to Deadline‘s sources, lead star Joey King has been a fan of the series for a long time and brought the series to Netflix –called them, got them to read the script and the book, and then King got Netflix to option it.
Joey King notably signed a first-look deal with Netflix in the Summer of 2021 for upcoming projects from her production company, All The King’s Horses.
Here’s everything else we know about Netflix’s Uglies:
What’s the plot of Uglies?
As mentioned above, Netflix’s Uglies will be an adaptation of Scott Westerfield’s international bestselling novel of the same name that was first published in 2005. It later spawned many sequels.
The story is set in a world in which a compulsory operation at 16 wipes out physical differences and makes everyone pretty by conforming to an ideal standard of beauty. Here’s the plot synopsis of the book:
“Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. In just a few weeks she’ll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty. And as a pretty, she’ll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun.
But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world—and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally’s choice will change her world forever.”
Who is cast in Uglies?
Joey King is an extremely familiar face on Netflix now thanks to her starring role in The Kissing Booth trilogy. In Uglies, King will be playing the role of Tally Youngblood, a character she has wanted to play for years since reading the books over a decade ago.
While on the red carpet for David Leitch’s Bullet Train, King was asked about Uglies and had the following response;
It was very exciting for me. The Uglies books meant a lot to me as a kid. Being able to make that and be the lead of those movies and also have so much fun while doing it–what a dream realized! I was 11 years old when I fell in love with the books.
Joey King describes working on ‘Uglies,’ YA bestseller adaption for Netflix, as a “dream realized” because she’s been a fan of the books since 11 pic.twitter.com/8jzdZbqnwf
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) August 2, 2022
On October 18th, 2021, three further cast members were announced for Uglies. Brianne Tju of Amazon’s I Know What You Did Last Summer, Chase Stokes of Outer Banks, and Keith Powers of The Tomorrow War have been cast in unconfirmed roles.
Below is the full cast list of Uglies;
- Joey King – Tally Youngblood
- Laverne Cox – TBA
- Chase Stokes – TBA
- Brianne Tju – TBA
- Jillian Murray – Ellie Youngblood
- Jan Luis Castellanos – Croy
- Kevin Miles – Auryn
- Keith Powers – TBA
- Alex D. Jennings – Garbo
- Kelly Gale – Sage
- Robert Palmer Watkins – Sol Youngblood
- Jessica Galinas – General Clayton
- Moose Ali Khan – Prime Minister Morrell
- Zamani Wilder – Astrix
- Jordan Sherley – An
- Ash Maeda – Dex
- Brett Hoyle – Nico Rodrigo
- Jay DeVon Johnson – Az
- Joe Sterrey – Fox
- Jason Parks – Cael
- Kate McSweeney – Emilin
What’s the production status of Uglies?
In 2021, in issue 1265 of Production Weekly, it was reported that production of Uglies would begin in October 2021 and last until January 2022.
Filming actually wrapped up a little earlier than expected. On December 19th, Joey King posted on Instagram that filming had finished. The caption reads as follows:
“Can’t believe I spent the last several months playing a character I’ve dreamt about for 10 years. See you in Uglyville folks. #ThatsAWrap”
Scott Westerfeld also confirmed that filming had concluded but added there’s a long way to go.
— Scott Westerfeld (@ScottWesterfeld) December 20, 2021
In February 2022, shortly after filming had finished, Joey King was interviewed by Collider, who stated that the movie was “looking fantastic.”
Speaking more about the project and how it came about, King said:
“I was really lucky that they [Netflix] were on board with it and that we got not only Scott Westerfeld stamp of approval, but like his enthusiasm. He is so excited and I’m such a fan of his and McG is so smart and just was the perfect person.
I think to make this, this film, we finished filming in December and McG was so generous and showed a lot of the footage to me and the cast while we were still shooting. And God, it looks cool already. It’s it was zero effects, zero coloring, zero like special effects edited in.”
In August 2023, Scott Westerfeld delivered a small update on the movie, responding to a question on X about the status, saying, “Minor tweaks delayed by the strikes.”
Then, in late 2023, we got an update through McG with the website TooFab, who asked about the forthcoming movie. When asked about the status of the movie, he responded:
“Yeah, I’m just finishing it right now with Joey King. It’s really exciting — big world creation, dystopian future. Joey’s such a courageous little rebel in that movie. Chase Stokes is in that movie, Laverne Cox. It’s really, really exciting. It’s our answer to Hunger Games, and it’s turning out really cool.”
In early 2024, we got word that some additional filming for the movie is taking place in Atlanta, Georgia, again.
What’s the Netflix release date for Uglies?
Netflix has yet to announce a release date for Uglies but has confirmed that the movie will be part of the 2024 lineup. The news came on February 1st when Netflix previewed its upcoming slate of 50+ movies set to arrive throughout the year.
Although no window was provided, given there’s still some additional filming to do, we wouldn’t expect a release date until mid-to-late 2024 realistically.
We’ll update you once we have more.
Are you looking forward to the release of Uglies on Netflix? Let us know in the comments below.