A British actor who turns heads, Benedict Cumberbatch now wants to turn a startling new cli-fi novel into a silver screen thriller. His production company recently took an option on British novelist Megan Hunter’s debut novel ‘The End We Start From,” and the 40-year-old ”Doctor Strange” star can’t wait to get started with casting, location scouting and, of course, funding.
The just-published novel, Hunter’s first, about a mother and her newborn child who are forced to become climate refugees after London is flooded due to a severe global warming impact event, is just 160 pages long and has been called a novella (rather than a novel) by some critics. Still, it’s a gripping tale, very-well told and very-well written.
Hunter, a poet with a fine ear for language, has crafted a frighteningly real and gripping story of a British family fighting for survival in the aftermath of what some might call the Climapocalypse. How it will translate to the screen is something Cumberbatch and his screenwriter will have to figure out.
It could turn out to be similar in impact to the earlier British dystopiana films “Children of Men” or ”28 Days Later.” In the Age of Trump and with the current popularity of the novels of Margaret Atwood, Jeff VanderMeer and Cory Doctorow, among others, Hunter’s novella is literary fiction at its best and published by a major British firm with PR clout and marketing savvy.
But wait: just because a novel has been optioned for film rights does not mean it will ever get made into a movie. Hundreds of producers buy film rights for novels and never turn them into movies. Sometimes it’s just a tax write-off investment strategy, sometimes it’s a gamble to attach themselves to the book before a competitor does, and sometimes it’s just pure PR hype to attract future investors and distributors for other movies on the drawing board.
So it is quite possible you will never see “The End We Start From” in a movie theater or on DVD. These things take time, and even if a movie does get made, it might not be released for another 10 years due funding issues, casting schedules and what Hollywood insiders call “development hell.”
Therefore, read the book. It’s getting very good reviews in Europe, was part of the buzz at the recent London Book Fair and should be on everyone’s cli-fi reading list this summer.