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Angry Robot heads to The Big Screen

My favourite thing in the world – books. My second favourite – movies. If only there was some way to combine the two? Oh joy! According to this press release there is.

TOP SOUTH AFRICAN PRODUCER WINS COVETED FILM RIGHTS IN INTERNATIONAL ‘BID FEST’ TO MULTIPLE AWARD-WINNING AND BESTELLING NOVEL “ZOO CITY” by SOUTH AFRICAN AUTHOR LAUREN BEUKES

“Beukes’ energetic noir phantasmagoria, the winner of this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award, crackles with original ideas.” – (Jeff VanderMeer, New York Times Book Review)

Helena Spring, widely regarded as one of South Africa’s most accomplished motion picture producers, has just been awarded the highly sought-after film rights to Zoo City, the Sci-Fi thriller penned by South African author Lauren Beukes – who garnered the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award for best Science Fiction novel. In the wake of whopping sales figures, multiple awards and critical acclaim Beukes’ book generated fierce interest from numerous bidders in the entertainment industry, putting Spring alongside major US and UK producers eager to tell Beukes’ unique tale.

Zoo City was published first in South Africa by Jacana Media and thereafter internationally by by Angry Robot.

The urban fantasy is set in a futuristic, gritty and hard-core Johannesburg where the eponymous ghetto has been colonised by society’s outcasts – like criminals, drug-dealers and psychopaths, and their animal companions. Like the other residents of the Zoo City slum, Zinzi, the anti-heroine, is “animalled”, but she is also a shrewd, street-smart girl with the gift (or burden) of finding lost things. Zinzi wears her power animal, a sloth, on her back. When she is hired to find a missing teenybopper star, she hopes that it will be her ticket out of Hell’s waiting room.

“I’m delighted to have secured the film and television rights for Zoo City,” commented Helena Spring. “It is a groundbreaking, magical novel begging for a life on the big screen. Lauren’s storytelling is masterful – edgy and futuristic, unique yet universal. It is high in entertainment value yet emotionally charged, a dream project for any producer.”

Beukes positively acknowledges the choice of the winning producer. “Every novelist dreams of a movie deal – but you actually want more than that. You want to find a producer of great vision and integrity and experience who fundamentally gets the book and understands how to transform it into an entirely different creature based on the same genetic material. I’m thrilled that it’s being produced in South Africa – for an international audience.”

Spring’s career in the entertainment industry spans nearly three decades, during which time she has produced over twenty motion pictures – including the first ever South African film to receive recognition at the Academy Awards®: Darrell Roodt’s Yesterday earned a Best Foreign Picture nomination in 2004.

Spring, who has worked with some of the foremost filmmakers in the world – such as Paul Greengrass who helmed the box office smash hits The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, and Academy Award® winner, Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), will soon be putting the project out to a select party of directors, while Beukes has first look as screenwriter to adapt her novel for the screen. “Lauren is perfectly placed to do this. The characters are alive inside her,” says Spring.

Julian Friedmann of Blake Friedmann (the literary agency that reps Beukes), says that: “Helena outbid all the others in a spirited auction for film rights to this extraordinary book. She had an extremely proactive, writer-friendly approach to working with Lauren and offered an imaginative and creative proposal that was irresistible.”

Lauren Beukes’ meteoric rise seems unstoppable and recently a new megabucks book deal was announced. The working titles of the two novels – due in 2013 and 2014 – are The Shining Girls and Broken Monsters. They were picked up by publishers in the US, the UK, South Africa, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany.

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