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Kill List's Ben Wheatley to direct adaptation of J.G. Ballard's High Rise

Aug. 29, 2013by: Kevin Woods

This is some pretty cool news to start your day off with.

Screen Daily is reporting that KILL LIST and SIGHTSEERS director Ben Wheatley is on board to direct Jeremy Thomas’ long-gestating J.G. Ballard adaptation HIGH RISE, with Wheatley's collaborator Amy Jump writing the script and Film4 on board as backers with HanWay handling international sales.

For over 30 years, British producer Jeremy Thomas has wanted to do a film version of HIGH RISE. It was nearly made in the late 1970s, with Nicolas Roeg directing from a script by Paul Mayersberg. However, financing fell through. In recent times Thomas has revisited HIGH RISE, and the project has been in development with Canadian filmmaker Vincenzo Natali (SPLICE) attached to write and direct.Thomas and Wheatley are lining up a 2014 UK shoot for the ‘faithful’ adaptation of Ballard’s unnerving 1975 novel about life in a modern tower block spiralling out of control.

Set in a luxury high-rise building, the book follows a group of affluent tenants hell-bent on an orgy of destruction. Cocktail parties degenerate into marauding attacks on ‘enemy’ floors and the once-luxurious amenities become an arena for technological mayhem.

Human society slips into violent reverse as the inhabitants of the ultra-modern high-rise, driven by primal urges, recreate a world ruled by the laws of the jungle.

Wheatley says of the project...

“I love Ballard’s work. This project started out with me looking at my bookcase, seeing the book, and thinking: ‘that would make a great film’.

“I started looking into who had the rights for the book and that led me to Jeremy, who has made some of my favourite films. It took me a few meetings just to get over the typewriter he has from Naked Lunch in his office.”

Wheatley has subsequently been studying Ballard’s notes and letters at the British Library.

Thomas described the source material as “a glorious book with great cinematic possibilities” and described Jump’s script as “completely changed” from previous incarnations.

Wheatley's latest film, A FIELD IN ENGLAND, received a groundbreaking wide release in the UK earlier this year and will soon be hitting North America via Drafthouse Films. Wheatley is currently in development on HBO TV pilot "Silk Road" and has a UK TV project lined up to shoot at the end of this year. His highly anticipated feature thriller FREAKSHIFT is also slated to shoot in 2014.

Extra Tidbit: Have you read Ballard's HIGH RISE? Think it's in capable hands with Wheatley at the helm?
Source: Screen Daily

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