Hot Off the Press Release: TVNZ to Air The Luminaries

TVNZ 1 will screen the BBC 2 adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s award-winning novel The Luminaries.

The NZ joint venture between Southern Light Films (The Dark Horse, Mr Pip) and NBCUniversal International Studios was announced today.

Here’s the full press release:

BBC Two has announced that leading actresses Eva Green (Casino Royale, Penny  Dreadful Sin City, A Dame to Kill For) and Eve Hewson (Robin Hood, The Knick, Bridge of Spies) will join the cast of six-part drama series, The Luminaries. Eva will play Lydia Wells together with Eve, who will play Anna Wetherell. New Zealand actor Marton Csokas (The Equalizer, Lord of the Rings, Into the Badlands) also joins as Francis Carver.

The series is an adaptation of the Man-Booker Prize winning novel of the same name and will screen on BBC Two in the UK and TVNZ 1 in New Zealand. Produced by Working Title Television and Southern Light Films, The Luminaries is being adapted for the screen by novelist Eleanor Catton and director  Claire McCarthy (Ophelia, The Waiting City).

Eva Green says: “I’m thrilled to be joining Working Title and this wonderful team. Eleanor has written a series of brilliant screenplays. I loved her original novel and it’s so exciting that her own screen adaptation reveals yet more exquisite material.”

New Zealand actor Marton Csokas adds: “I’m looking forward to returning home to shoot The Luminaries later this year. It’s an honour to play a part in bringing this epic New Zealand story to the screen.”

The Luminaries tells an epic story of love, murder and revenge, as men and women travelled across the world to make their fortunes. It is a 19th century tale of adventure and mystery, set on the Wild West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island in the boom years of the 1860s gold rush.

The story follows defiant young adventurer Anna Wetherell, who has sailed from Britain to New Zealand to begin a new life. There she meets the radiant Emery Staines, an encounter that triggers a strange kind of magic that neither can explain.

As they fall in love, driven together and apart by fateful coincidence, these star-crossed lovers begin to wonder: do we make our fortunes, or do our fortunes make us?

Screenplay writer and novelist Eleanor Catton says: “I’ve had tremendous fun adapting this novel for the screen and feel incredibly lucky to be working with such fantastic people across different art forms.

“Writing a novel is a solitary business, but writing for the screen is emphatically collaborative, and to see the world of The Luminaries enlarged and enriched in ways that go far beyond the scope of my own imagination has been a humbling and hugely exhilarating experience. I couldn’t be happier that the brilliant Claire McCarthy is at the helm, and I can’t wait to see this incredible cast bring the story to life.”

New Zealand-born executive producer Tim Bevan, of Working Title, says: “I was born and bred in gold country, so loved Ellie’s stunning novel from the moment it was published. It’s great that Working Title Television is teaming up with Southern Light Films and a strong New Zealand team to turn it into a special piece of television.”

Director Claire McCarthy adds: “Ever since I read Eleanor’s incredible novel I’ve been completely captivated by the rich world she has created. What an honour to bring this beautiful and original work to the screen. I’m delighted to be joining forces with such wonderful actors and dynamic creative team.“

On publishing, The Luminaries was met with worldwide critical acclaim. Most notably it won the 2013 Man Booker Prize, with Eleanor Catton being its youngest ever recipient. Filming for the adaptation is taking place from November in New Zealand and further casting will be announced in due course.

The Luminaries 6×60’ episodes will be produced by Working Title Television – a joint venture between NBCUniversal International Studios, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner; and Southern Light Films for BBC Two, in association with TVNZ.

The series will be executive produced by Eleanor Catton; Mona Qureshi for the BBC; Andrew Woodhead, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner for Working Title Television; Christian Vesper for Fremantle; Claudia Bluemhuber for Silver Reel; and Tim White for Southern Light Films with producer Lisa Chatfield and co-producer Judith Trye. The series will be sold internationally by Fremantle.

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