Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society and Warner Bros. have nabbed the film rights to “Black Leopard, Red Wolf,” a buzzy new fantasy novel by Marlon James.
“Black Leopard, Red Wolf” draws on African mythology to tell the story of Tracker, whose acute sense of smell leads him to be hired to find a missing child against a backdrop of warring kingdoms and political chaos. The child he seeks may be the heir to an empire, something that complicates matters. James referred to the often bloody epic as an “African ‘Game of Thrones,’” but later said he was joking. Still, it includes plenty of the elements that made that HBO show a water-cooler phenomenon including witches, a shape-shifting leopard, a killer hyena, and conjoined twins.
The book is the initial entry in James’ planned Dark Star Trilogy. James, best known for writing the best-seller “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” will serve as executive producer of the project. It’s the first acquisition since Warners and Jordan’s production banner Outlier Society announced their first look deal.
James, a Booker Prize winner, also wrote “John Crow’s Devil.” He received a master’s degree in creative writing from Wilkes University and is currently a professor of literature at Macalester College in Minnesota. “A Brief History of Seven Killings” is reportedly being adapted by Amazon Studios as a possible TV series.
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Riverhead Books published the novel on Feb. 4. Reviews for “Black Leopard, Red Wolf” have been largely positive with Rolling Stone calling the book ” a stunning, word-drunk take on sword-and-sorcery sagas” and the New York Times praising James for crafting “characters who will take their place in the pantheon of memorable and fantastical superheroes.”
Anonymous Content and Ellen Levine of Trident Media Group brokered the deal.
Founded by Jordan, the star of “Black Panther” and “Creed,” Outlier Society’s mandate is to foster an “eclectic and inclusive lineup of diverse stories and voices.” The company was one of the first companies to publicly adopt the inclusion rider, which is intended to create more opportunities for women and people of color both in front of and behind the camera. Upcoming projects include WWII action drama “The Liberators,” the sci-fi hour-long series “Raising Dion,” and the OWN drama series “David Makes Man” from Oscar-winning “Moonlight” co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney.