Millie Bobby Brown, Filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu Tackling ‘The Thing About Jellyfish’ for Universal
Millie Bobby Brown and Kenyan film director Wanuri Kahiu are teaming up to adapt acclaimed YA novel The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin.
Universal has optioned the rights to the 2015 book published by Little Brown and is developing the adaptation with producers Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane of MWM Studios, Bruna Papandrea, and Reese Witherspoon.
The producers have been developing the project since 2017, when MWM, the company behind the upcoming Motherless Brooklyn from Edward Norton and Chadwick Boseman’s 17 Bridges, acquired the rights, hiring playwright Molly Smith Metzler to work on what would be her first feature script, which made the 2017 Black List.
Jellyfish tells the story of a young girl named Suzy as she enters seventh grade. When her former best friend dies in a drowning accident — and not believing her mother who says that sometimes “these things happen” — Suzy becomes convinced that the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting. She retreats into a silent world of her imagination and begins crafting a globe-trotting plan to prove her theory, with the book exploring the ideas of life and death, the frailty of friendships and the potential of hope right next door.
The book was Benjamin’s debut novel. It was not only a commercial success, but also a literary smash, named as a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award.
Brown is attached to play Suzy.
Adrian Alperovich and Melissa Rucker will executive produce on behalf of MWM Studios. Jeanne Snow will also exec produce. Senior exec vp production Erik Baiers and director of development Lexi Barta are overseeing on behalf of Universal.
Brown is one of the stars of Stranger Things, whose season three arrives July, and stars in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which hits the big-screen May 31. She is repped by WME and Hansen Jacobson.
Kahiu wrote and directed the LGBTQ film Rafiki, which made history last year as being the first Kenyan film to screen at the Cannes Film Festival even as the movie was banned in her home country due to its themes. She is repped by CAA and Gotham Group.
Benjamin is repped by CAA while Metzler is repped by WME and Granview.