R.F. Kuang’s Babel Optioned for On-Screen Adaptation

Wiip, the studio behind The Mare of Easttown and The Summer I Turned Pretty, has optioned the rights to adapt R.F. Kuang’s Babel for film or television. Deadline broke the news that wiip picked up the rights, with Temple Hill Entertainment—the company behind the Twilight films—producing.

“We’ve been in love with Babel since we first tore through it—Rebecca [Kuang] is a singular, generational storyteller and we believe this is one of the most transporting, evocative and relevant fantasy novels since Harry Potter,” wiip executives Paul Lee and Josh Stern told Deadline.

The Harry Potter reference is odd here, because Babel is an adult historical fantasy tale that takes place in a magically infused nineteenth-century world where Oxford University houses the British Empire’s Royal Institute of Translation (a.k.a. Babel). This institution draws students like the Chinese orphan Robin Swift, who expand the Empire’s power by developing new sources of magic found through the translation of words. (And yes, I know the reference was meant to evoke the widespread impact the Harry Potter books have, and Kuang is absolutely one of the best authors of her generation, but still…)

It’s exciting to hear there’s a chance that we’ll see an on-screen version of Kuang’s story in the future. If you haven’t read it, Babel is a fantastic novel that has won the 2023 Nebula Award for Best Novel, the British Book Award for Best Fiction, and the Locus Award for Fantasy Novel.

Kuang was also unsurprisingly enthused about the news being made public. “I was so excited by Temple Hill and wiip’s vision for the project,” she told Deadline. “It felt like they were truly dedicated to creating a translation that adds to the story through the unique qualities of a different art form.”

The project is still in its early days—it still needs a scriptwriter on board to pen the adaptation, and we don’t know whether it will be a feature film or a series—but here’s to hoping we’ll get more news about the endeavor sooner rather than later. icon-paragraph-end

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