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Top South African Producer Wins Film Rights to Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City

Alert! The moment many of us have been waiting for has finally arrived – the cogs have been set in motion for the making of Zoo City, The Movie. Following a “spirited auction”, the much coveted film rights to Lauren BeukesArthur C Clarke Award-winning novel have been awarded to South African producer, Helena Spring.

Spring, who has worked with some of the best filmmakers in the world, described the novel as “begging for a life on the big screen”. Meanwhile, Beukes reportedly expressed her enthusiasm that the film will be produced in South Africa while remaining accessible to an international audience.

This latest development is merely one part of Beukes’ “meteoric rise”. In October, we announced that Beukes had landed two-book deals with Harper Collins, Mulholland and Random House Struik, all of which have scheduled her new book, The Shining Girls, for publication in May 2013. Beukes is also longlisted for the 2012 Dublin IMPAC Award.

In the meantime, while we await further news, Beukes has asked the Twitterverse for suggestions for a Zoo City dream cast. Know who would make the perfect Zinzi, Benoît or even Sloth? Tweet @LaurenBeukes with #zoocitydreamcast.

Zoo City (SA edition)Zoo City (UK edition)

Press release:

South Africa, November 22nd – Helena Spring, widely regarded as one of South Africa’s most accomplished motion picture producer, has just been awarded the highly sought after film rights to “Zoo City”, the Sci-Fi “cyberpunk” 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 ground breaking, 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 3 decades during which time she has produced over 20 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 last week 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 – which were picked up by publishers in the US, the UK, South Africa, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany.


Book details

Photo courtesy the Mail & Guardian Book of South African Women


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    November 29th, 2011 @00:07 #

    This really is awesome, and I mean that in all senses of the world. How wonderful that ZC is going to be made as a movie, and right here too. Having fond flashbacks to joking with Lauren way back when about attending opening night of the movie of one of her books... it blows my hair back to know it's actually going to happen.


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