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‘Moonlight’ Director Barry Jenkins Sets Next Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

Barry Jenkins is set to direct an adaptation of “If Beale Street Could Talk” for Annapurna Pictures, marking his first feature film since his hit “Moonlight” won this year’s best picture Oscar.

The project marks another high-profile title for Annapurna, which recently entered the distribution game after spending years as a financier. Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit,” which bows on Aug. 4, is the first movie under the studio’s new slate.

Based on the novel by James Baldwin, “If Beale Street Could Talk,” the story follows Tish, a newly engaged Harlem woman who races against the clock to prove her lover’s innocence while carrying their first-born child. It is a celebration of love told through the story of a young couple, their families and their lives, trying to bring about justice through love, for love and the promise of the American dream.

Production on the film is expected to start in October.

Jenkins, who has wanted to make the film for many years, wrote the screenplay during the same summer sojourn in 2013 when he penned “Moonlight.” Since then, Jenkins has been working with the Baldwin Estate. Baldwin’s sister, Gloria Karefa-Smart, says, “We are delighted to entrust Barry Jenkins with this adaptation. Barry is a sublimely conscious and gifted filmmaker, whose ‘Medicine for Melancholy’ impressed us so greatly that we had to work with him.”

“James Baldwin is a man of and ahead of his time; his interrogations of the American consciousness have remained relevant to this day,” Jenkins said. “To translate the power of Tish and Fonny’s love to the screen in Baldwin’s image is a dream I’ve long held dear. Working alongside the Baldwin Estate, I’m excited to finally make that dream come true.”

The movie will mark Jenkins’ first production with Annapurna and a reunion of “Moonlight’s” producing team with PASTEL and Plan B.

Jenkins will also write and direct an hourlong drama series about the Underground Railroad in development at Amazon, based on Colson Whitehead’s best-selling book “The Underground Railroad.”

Jenkins is repped by CAA and Silent R Management, and Plan B is repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

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