'Out of Africa' Series Adaptation in the Works From 'Harry Potter' Producer

Out of Africa Still - Photofest - H 2016
Courtesy of Photofest

Out of Africa Still - Photofest - H 2016

Out of Africa is the latest big-screen classic eyeing a move to TV.

Harry Potter and Gravity producer David Heyman is developing a series adaptation of Karen Blixen's memoir, which also spawned the 1985 Robert Redford-Meryl Streep drama, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

Heyman's Heyday Television — a joint venture with NBCUniversal International Studios — has acquired the rights to the book, with Oscar winner Susanne Bier (The Night Manager) attached to executive produce and direct. Heyday Television's Nancy Cotton is also on board as an executive producer.

"'I had a farm in Africa' is Blixen’s most famous line: she was a survivor, unpredictable and nonconformist, and a determined explorer,” Heyman said Wednesday in a statement. “We are beyond delighted that Susanne Bier has such a passionate attachment to Karen’s story: with such critically acclaimed work in both film and television, she is the ideal director to transport us to Africa through the eyes of Denmark’s most celebrated writer. And of course, the long form series offers us the chance to explore not only Karen’s world, but also the perspective of the Kenyans she encounters.”

Added Bier: “Karen Blixen defied the male-dominated world at every turn. Despite heavy resistance, she single-handedly ran her farm in Africa. She felt a greater kinship with the indigenous Kenyan population than any of her class peers. She both found and lost the love for which she had always longed. She has always fascinated me. This opportunity to engage with her enduring legacy is a great challenge and even greater privilege.”

First published in 1937, Out of Africa recounts the 17 years that Blixen spent in the Ngong Hills of Kenya during the last decades of the British Empire as she searched to find her role and voice in a changing world. The film, directed by Sydney Pollack, grossed more than $128 million and won seven Oscars. 

"We are excited to have the incredible team of producer David Heyman and director Susanne Bier taking on the retelling of Out of Africa," said NBCUniversal International Studios president Michael Edelstein. "We know they will bring tremendous passion and humanity to this iconic story and look forward to seeing how they expand the narrative into a long running dramatic series."  

In addition to the Harry Potter franchise, Heyman's other credits include Gravity, Paddington and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Bier's other credits include After the Wedding and In a Better World.

In recent years, movies have repeatedly proven to be popular inspiration for TV shows. This year's freshman slate include redos of Lethal Weapon, The Exorcist, Training Day and Taken, among others. Potential pilots in the works for the 2017-18 season include remakes of S.W.A.T. and Behind Enemy Lines, and a new take on What About Bob? called What About Barb?