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Element Pictures, the Irish banner behind the Emmy-nominated and BAFTA-winning hit adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People, has landed another buzzy coming-of-age novel from a fast-rising young author.
Following what has been described as a hotly-contested auction, the production company — in which Fremantle took a majority stake earlier in the year — has acquired the film and TV rights to Nicola Dinan’s debut novel Bellies ahead of its publication in the U.S. and U.K. next summer. Element, which also produced the adaptations of Rooney’s Conversations with Friends and Nancy Harris’ The Dry, is working with Dinan to turn the novel into an eight-part series.
Moving from London to Kuala Lumpur, New York to Cologne, Bellies follows two queer students, Tom and Ming, who fall in love at university and find their relationship dramatically upended when Ming comes out as trans and decides to transition.
“We were immediately absorbed and transported by the love story between Tom and Ming — and by Nicola’s writing, which is in equal parts hilarious and heart-breaking,” said Element Pictures’ Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe and Chelsea Morgan Hoffmann, who will executive produce alongside Dinan. “We think the world is hungry for a love story like theirs — that authentically allows for the space and complexity of their changing dynamic, both as Ming transitions but also as the two of them grow into adulthood — while still honoring the excitement and intensity of first love. We are delighted to bring their story to the screen and couldn’t be happier that Nicola is adapting herself.”
Doubleday is releasing Bellies in the U.K. in July 2023, followed by Hanover Square Press in the U.S. in August.
“People have told me that Bellies has given them a new perspective,” said Dinan, now based in London and working on her second novel. “I think that’s really special and reminds me that fiction can enlighten in ways that hard facts often can’t. At its heart, Bellies isn’t about identity. Rather, it’s about two young people struggling to find their place in the world, all while learning how to care for each other and those around them. I’m so happy to be working with Element, and to have the opportunity to continue to explore these characters and share them with the world onscreen.”
Alongside its success on the small screen, Element is also behind a string of hugely acclaimed, award-winning films, including Room, The Favourite and The Lobster, in addition to the recently released The Wonder, starring Florence Pugh, and The Eternal Daughter, starring Tilda Swinton.
Fremantle will handle global sales of Bellies alongside De Maio Entertainment.
The film and television rights deal was brokered by Lesley Thorne of Aitken Alexander Associates Ltd on behalf of Dinan and her literary agent Monica MacSwan, and Mark Byrne for Element Pictures.
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