EXCLUSIVE: Focus Features has secured the rights to develop and produce a feature version of Chris Adrian & Eli Horowitz’s eponymous novel The New WorldSharon Horgan, who created HBO’s Divorce and co-created Pulling and Motherland for BBC, will make her feature directorial debut from a screenplay by Sarah Ruhl. Alicia Van Couvering and Olivia Wilde will produce.

In The New World Jane’s husband Jim has just died — or, not quite as he had assigned his head to be frozen with a shadowy organization that promises to do away with mortality forever. Awake in a bucolic retreat – an afterlife of sorts – Jim learns that the cost of eternal life is higher than he ever could have imagined. Meanwhile, stranded in the realm of the living and reeling from the loss of her husband, Jane sets out to get back his head.

Horgan previously directed the award-winning short The Week Before Christmas for Sky One in the UK and is known for her BAFTA-winning work as co-creator, writer and star of sitcom Catastrophe, for which she has received three further BAFTA TV nominations and a Primetime Emmy nomination. Merman, the production company Horgan co-founded, recently signed a two-year overall deal with Amazon Studios. Horgan also recently appeared in the Jason Bateman-Rachel McAdams critically acclaimed New Line comedy Game Night. 

The New World is Ruhl’s first screenplay. She is a Tony-nominated playwright, a two-time Pulitzer finalist and a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient whose past stage work includes In the Next Room (Or The Vibrator Play), The Clean House and Eurydice.

Wilde has been increasing her role as a filmmaker on myriad independent features lately. The upcoming Life Itself actress is in post-production on Booksmart, her feature directorial debut for Annapurna. Wilde also produced and starred in Reed Murano’s drama Meadowland and Sarah Daggar-Nickson’s A Vigilante. She’s also executive produced a slew of documentary shorts, including the Oscar-Nominated Body Team 12, and directed music videos for Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ed Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

Horgan is repped by WME and United Agents. Ruhl is repped by UTA. Wilde is repped by WME.