EXCLUSIVE: Sacred Hunger, the Booker Prize-winning novel by Barry Unsworth, is set for a small-screen remake.
Plan B and Marshall exec producer Chris Bongirne and his production company Smokestack Films have teamed up with financier Stephen Leist to acquire the rights to the book, which follows the journey of a struggling young English doctor aboard 18th century slave ship the Liverpool Merchant.
The book was published in 1992 and it shared the Booker Prize that year with Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, which went on to become Anthony Minghella’s Oscar-winning film starring Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas.
Sacred Hunger begins when the ship is stricken by disease, watching as its crew and their cargo of African prisoners, meant for the slave trade, unite in mutiny, a move that will ultimately free both from the period’s oppressive and dehumanizing grip of commerce and greed.
Bongirne recently exec produced Victoria Moroles and Kuhoo Verma-fronted comedy feature Plan B, which was directed by Natalie Morales from a screenplay by Prathi Srinivasan and Joshua Levy that was released on Hulu. He also exec produced Anthony Hopkins’ The Virtuoso and Thurgood Marshall biopic Marshall starring Chadwick Boseman and Kate Hudson.
Watch on Deadline
Sacred Hunger is his latest TV project; he is also currently developing The Brasco Files, based on the adventures of real-life Donnie Brasco, FBI Special Agent Joseph D. Pistone.
The deal was negotiated by Albert Spevak and for the Unsworth estate by Lucy Fowler and Shiel Land Associates.
“We’re honored to have the opportunity to adapt Unsworth’s poignant work for the screen. The deeply powerful story dives deep into England’s early slave trade to reveal a tale of shared humanity as stunningly relevant today as it was bitingly critical at the time,” Bongirne said. “Television is the perfect medium for the brutal relevance, scope and sweep of this timely story.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.