Dream team for SA’s Zoo City film

2013-11-14 14:47

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A significant new South African creature-effect movie is on track and it has the potential to become the biggest news in the local industry since District 9.

It’s the film adaptation of the gritty fantasy novel Zoo City by international award-winning novelist Lauren Beukes.

This week, news leaked that Zoo City the film has brought a director on board. He’s Donovan Marsh, who is behind the Spud movies as well as the explosively successful new heist thriller iNumber Number.

Helena Spring, the Zoo City producer, confirmed today that Marsh is attached. “He and Lauren are two rising stars. They’ll make a kick-ass team,” she said. “Donovan’s skills are fantastic and with his recent breakthrough with iNumber Number he’s perfectly poised to break into the international market.”

iNumber Number premiered to acclaim at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year. It was snapped up for distribution in America and then Universal bought the rights for a Hollywood remake of the film.

Marsh enthused about Beukes when City Press contacted him. “I’m a huge fan. She has revolutionised the sci-fi genre. The film has the potential to be massive,” he said.

Beukes has contributed to the screenplay that Marsh is writing.

Lauren Beukes. Picture: Matthew Brown

Both he and Spring agreed that the most daunting aspect of bringing Zoo City to life is the computer generated imagery (CGI). The book, which plays off mainly in a futurist Hillbrow features convicted murderers who are shackled to mystic animals. All of the animals will have to be animated.

“Whenever you have animation and actors interacting in the same frame it’s daunting – and not cheap,” said Marsh.

“That’s the first thing we’re locking down,” says Spring. “The CGI partners … We are hoping to also have a local CGI team. The film will be shot here with a mix of local and international stars.”

Beukes recently watched iNumber Number and told City Press: “I’m so impressed with the style and panache of iNumber Number, the performances, and the beauty of how Donovan captured inner city Johannesburg. It’s getting a ton of buzz in Hollywood right now and he’s a rising talent.”

Marsh says the film’s success has brought with it a Hollywood agent and lots of new scripts to read. But he’s sticking with local literary big guns.

iNumber Number director Donovan Marsh. Picture: Elizabeth Sejake/City Press

He has also been attached as director of Thirteen Hours, the crime blockbuster by Deon Meyer that’s getting a film version.

Beukes, for her part, has also sold the rights to her hugely successful new novel, The Shining Girls. Leonardo DiCaprio has optioned the time travelling serial killer story as a TV series. The novel is being sold in 25 countries.

But Zoo City’s cult status continues to grow. It is the focus of academic work, art exhibitions – and a soon-to-be announced music festival.

Spring says she hopes to go into preproduction on Zoo City somewhere between the middle and end of 2014.

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