In a competitive situation, DNA Films, whose Alicia Vikander-starrer Ex Machina was one of 2015’s sleeper hits, and Film4 have acquired the rights to Andrew Michael Hurley’s critically acclaimed and award-winning modern gothic horror novel The Loney. Film4 also developed Alex Garland’s Ex Machina to great success with DNA. The Loney, which defies easy categorisation, has been ecstatically reviewed and comes with singular praise from the master of the genre himself Stephen King, who has said, “The Loney is not just good, it’s great. It’s an amazing piece of fiction.”
Set in 1976 on a wild piece of English coastline somewhere in the north-west, The Loney follows fifteen-year-old Tonto and his older brother, Hanny, as they embark on their annual pilgrimage with their parents, a Catholic priest and a collection of other oddballs, to visit a nearby shrine. Hanny’s parents hope the shrine will cure their son of his seemingly severe learning difficulties and muteness. They are holed up in an old house that, twice a day, is engulfed by a murderous tide while a mystery hangs over the group following the death of last year’s priest. Murkier yet are a couple staying at a house across the bay with a – possibly underage- heavily pregnant girl in a wheelchair.
The novel seems fertile ground for cinematic adaptation and DNA’s co-chiefs Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich know their way round this terrain very well, having produced the likes of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later and sequel 28 Weeks Later. The company, which recently pivoted towards TV production following the launch last February of DNA TV Limited, a partnership with Fox Networks Group with the goal of generating dramas, comedy and limited-run event series for UK and international broadcasters. The company has a number of high-profile projects in the pipeline, including:
– An adaptation of Wolf Hall author Hilary Mantel’s A Place Of Greater Safety about the French Revolution that is being written by Richard Warlow (Ripper Street) and is a co-production with the BBC.
– Nick Hornby (Brooklyn) is writing an original returning series about the music industry in the late 1970s.
– Stephen Beresford (Pride) is writing an original idea about the battle of succession in a fictional royal family.
The company is still also very involved in films, with two high profile projects for 2016: Danny Boyle’s eagerly-anticipated Trainspotting sequel re-uniting all the original cast of the iconic Brit hit as well as their latest with frequent collaborator Alex Garland, who is writing and directing Natalie Portman-starrer Annihilation. The latter project is also being produced by Scott Rudin and Eli Bush. Garland’s Ex Machina, starring Alicia Vikander, became a surprise sleeper domestically for A24 with $25,4 million and a couple of Oscar noms, including best screenplay for Garland.