Daniel Kaluuya to produce and star in the Netflix adaptation of Femi Fadugba’s novel The Upper World.
The story is set in Peckham, London, and centers on Esso (Kaluuya). Esso is caught in a deadly feud and on the verge of expulsion when he realizes he has an unexpected gift: access to a world where he can see glimpses of the past and the future. A generation away, Rhia is walking to football practice in 2035, unaware that the mysterious stranger she’s about to meet desperately needs her help to avert a bullet fired 15 years ago.
The Upper World is Femi Fadugba’s debut novel and is the first in a planned series of novels. Penguin UK will release the YA novel in 2021 and HarperCollins will release the book in the US, early 2022. Which means Netflix most likely isn’t releasing the film adaptation until 2022.
“With Netflix bringing the film adaptation to audiences around the world, I’m excited about the impact the story can have,” said Fadugba. “I’d love to one day see teachers putting the book on their summer reading lists. I’d love to help create a world where when people talk about the new Cardi B, Giggs or C.S song, they mention the ideas in The Upper World as part of the culture as well.”
Fadugba serves as an executive producer.
Screen Arcade’s Eric Newman and Bryan Unkeless are producing alongside Kaluuya. Newman brought the novel to Netflix, which has acquired the worldwide rights to adapt it into a feature film.
“I can count on one hand the times I’ve connected with a novel so viscerally. It’s a rare feeling, made even more special when you also have the opportunity to bring such a story to life on film,” Netflix Film’s vice president Tendo Nagenda said in a statement. “Films can impact and expand the way people see and experience life. ‘The Upper World’ will be one of those films. I’m neither from the place nor ‘time’ depicted in the pages of the debut novel of physicist-turned-author Femi Fadugba. However, through staggeringly skilled storytelling, I was taken on a mind-and-heart altering adventure through the book’s characters and experiences.”
Ahead of The Upper World’s release you can catch Kaluuya opposite LaKeith Stanfield in the drama, Judas and the Black Messiah. Kaluuya is most known for his breakout role in Jordan Peele’s Get Out, as well as Widows, Queen & Slim, and Black Panther.