Monday, 25 May 2015

Natalie Portman in early talks for Alex Garland's Annihilation

With artificial intelligence thriller Ex Machina proving a big success at the box office both here and in the US, writer/director Alex Garland has plenty of momentum for whatever he wants to make next. He has been working quietly on Annihilation for a few months now, with news arriving via Variety that Natalie Portman (Black Swan) is interested in playing the lead.

The adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer's science fiction novel has been in development since 2013, when producer Scott Rudin bought the rights and set the project up at Paramount Pictures. Garland signed on in November and is now putting the elements together.

VanderMeer's book chronicles an expedition into a mysterious, remote and sealed-off zone known as Area X. For 30 years, Area X has been labelled by the government as an environmental disaster zone, despite seemingly being a pristine wilderness. For 30 years, too, a secret agency called the Southern Reach has monitored Area X and sent in expeditions to try to discover the truth.

Some expeditions have suffered terrible consequences. Others have reported nothing out of the ordinary. Now, as Area X seems to be changing and perhaps expanding, the next investigation will attempt to succeed where all others have failed. What is happening in the zone? What is the true nature of the invisible border that surrounds it? Our heroine (Portman, if she signs) and guide for the latest attempt to discover the truth behind the place is a biologist looking for answers to her husband's disappearance as part of an earlier expedition. She and her colleagues soon discover that all is definitely not what it seems and that they are all being manipulated...

Portman has been busy working on her directorial debut, A Tale Of Love And Darkness, which she recently brought to the Cannes Film Festival to show to distributors. She will also be seen in Jane Got A Gun (4 September) and Terrence Malick's (Tree Of Life) Knight Of Cups, which has a reported UK release date on 1 January 2016.

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