FilmFour has bought the Zadie Smith novel “On Beauty,” with Alison Owen and Scott Rudin producing.
Novel, which was on the short list for the Booker Prize, is about two professors who are bitter rivals in the academic world. Despite each prof’s inherent dislike of the other, members of their two families intermingle.
FilmFour topper Tessa Ross, who’ll be exec producer, estimates the budget of the film at about $20 million and said FilmFour will partner with an American distributor.
FilmFour usually concentrates on Brit-themed fare, and while this one is set at an East Coast college, the author is British and so is Rudin’s producing partner, Owen.
Smith’s debut novel, “White Teeth,” was the first project FilmFour’s Ross brought with her to Channel 4 when she moved there from the BBC. “White Teeth” was made into a miniseries.
“On Beauty” was a bestseller in London and is climbing the lists in the U.S.
Owen is developing several other books at FilmFour, including Monica Ali’s “Brick Lane,” which will shoot early next year with Sarah Gavron directing. Rudin is partnered with Owen on an adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s “The Other Boleyn Girl” for BBC Films. A director is being sought, and Sony will distribute domestically, with Focus to take foreign.