Daniel Kaluuya‘s career skyrocketed after starring in Jordan Peele’s incredible horror movie Get Out. Since then, he’s been relegated to key supporting roles in the likes of Black Panther and Widows, and an unfortunately overlooked but fantastic lead performance in Queen & Slim. But Netflix might be able to help Daniel Kaluuya get more attention since they’ve just picked up the movie rights to an adaptation of Femi Fadugba‘s debut sci-fi young adult novel The Upper World, in which the actor is slated to star and produce.
Deadline has news on The Upper World, which is based on the first of what is meant to be a series of young adult novels published by HarperCollins in the United States starting in 2022. Here’s the official synopsis of Femi Fadugba’s book:
Set in Peckham, London, the story follows Esso, who is caught in a deadly feud and on the verge of expulsion when he realizes he has an unexpected gift: access to a world where he can see glimpses of the past and the future. A generation away, Rhia is walking to football practice in 2035, unaware that the mysterious stranger she’s about to meet desperately needs her help to avert a bullet fired fifteen years ago.
It sounds like an intriguing enough premise, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a project that dealt with some of the extremely relevant social and racial issues that have become even more prominent this year due to the Black Lives Matter movement. That’s just speculation on my part, but a high concept story like this with provocative social and racial consciousness would go a long way.
Making this even more of an interesting story is that Femi Fadugba is a writer with a master’s from Oxford University where he published in Quantum Physics. Having someone like that writing a time travel novel should make for a satisfying endeavor. Fadugba was also a recipient of the prestigious Thouron Award, a prestigious postgraduate scholarship created to strengthen the “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom through educational exchange.
Tendo Nagenda, VP of Netflix Films, has plenty of praise to throw at the author and his book after Eric Newman, who is producing the movie with his partner Bryan Unkeless through their Screen Arcade production banner, brought it to their attention:
“Femi Fadugba. You may not know his name, but once you’ve read The Upper World you won’t be able to forget it. That’s what happened to me after producer Eric Newman introduced me to the book. I can count on one hand the times I’ve connected with a novel so viscerally. It’s a rare feeling, made even more special when you also have the opportunity to bring such a story to life on film.”
It’s unfortunate that we won’t be able to read the book for a couple years (the UK gets it a bit earlier in 2021), and part of me wonders if the movie will debut before the book is even on shelves in the United States. But movies are put into development all the time and don’t move forward as quickly as you might think. Especially with Hollywood productions still not up and running at regular capacity, this one might take awhile to get off the ground. But Fadugba, who is executive producing the movie, is still pretty jazzed. He said:
“With Netflix bringing the film adaptation to audiences around the world, I’m excited about the impact the story can have. I’d love to one day see teachers putting the book on their summer reading lists. I’d love to help create a world where when people talk about the new Cardi B, Giggs or C.S song, they mention the ideas in The Upper World as part of the culture as well.”
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