Brad Pitt To Adapt Sci-Fi Novel ‘Illuminae’ For The Big Screen

Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment has teamed up with Warner Bros. to adapt a popular young adult science fiction novel, Illuminae, for the big screen.

The novel hit the bookstore shelves in October this year and has attracted raving reviews, hitting the New York Times “Young Adult Hardcover Bestseller list” within the first week of sales. One reason for its popularity is reportedly its unusual format, where the book is like a dossier of found documents, including instant messages, emails, ship schematics, classified files, and casualty lists.

Illuminae was written by award-winning authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristof; and Pitt will be producing the movie alongside his Plan B partners Jeremy Kleiner and Dede Gardner.

As reported by the Hollywood Reporter, the book follows the story of a female teenage hacker and her ex-boyfriend, a former fighter pilot. They are struggling through a broken relationship while working together, unearthing a conspiracy about an intergalactic war. The story has them dealing with an enemy alien race, fighting a dangerous and rogue artificial intelligence, along with attempting to survive a deadly virus.

The way the story is depicted is through a file of various found documents, including text messages, shipping files, casualty lists, and texts.

This is not the first time Kaufman’s work has been adapted for the screen. She is the acclaimed co-author behind the Starbound Trilogy, which is currently being developed by MGM Television. Her writing partner in Illuminae, Kristoff, wrote the bestselling Lotus War series of fantasy novels. Both authors reside in Australia.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Brad Pitt’s Plan B saw an early manuscript of the novel and were immediately keen to adapt the fascinating story. In the past, they have been involved in a similar adaptation of Leanne Shapton’s novel, Important Artifacts, which was in the form of an auction catalog and followed and ups and downs of a relationship.

Warner Bros. and Brad Pitt’s Plan B are now reportedly searching for suitable writers to adapt the science fiction novel, Illuminae.

So far, and on behalf of the studio, Jesse Ehrman and Julia Spiro are overseeing the project, while Sarah Esberg will be the executive producer for Plan B.

Taking a sneak peek into the book itself, Entertainment Weekly outlined content taken directly from Illuminae, which tells the tale of Kady, the hacker. On that morning, she thought that breaking up with her boyfriend Ezra was the hardest thing she would have to do. But on “that afternoon, her planet was invaded.”

Set in the year 2575, the story talks of two huge rival mega-corporations at war over a planet at the edge of the universe. Enemy fire is raining down on the people living on that planet. Kady and Ezra, while no longer together in the romantic sense, are fighting their way to the evacuating fleet, wanting to escape the violence.

However once on board, they find that the battleship fleet’s artificial intelligence, rather than protecting the people on board, may actually be an enemy in and of itself. Following this a viral plague starts killing the people in the fleeing vessels.

Kady then hacks into the tangled web of data to try and find the truth and realizes that there is only one person who can help her, her ex-boyfriend, Ezra.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kaufman explains that the whole book Illuminae consists of “emails, IM conversations, blueprints, medical reports, maps, security reports, posters and the rambling of a mad artificial intelligence.”

She said that frankly, they kept waiting for their editor to say they had gone too far, but the editor kept asking for more. Now it seems the editor was right to push them for more, as the book continues to do well and draw excellent reviews.

On the cover, one review states, “Brace yourself, you’re about to be immersed in a mindscape that you’ll never want to leave.” Rumor has it that two more Illuminae novels are already in the works.

Speaking of the cover, even that is a little different. A gif shows the fascinating way it has been set up. Kristoff explained that it is actually two covers. “.. on the outside, there’s a transparent acetate wrap, with “windows” that show through to the hardback cover underneath.”

Kaufman added that on the hardcover underneath that, the redacted documents that are a feature of the book can be seen along with several explosions.

Kaufman added that “Illuminae is like Battlestar Galactica meets Ten Things I Hate About You. It’s got explosions, surprise attacks, a deadly plague, a mad artificial intelligence, conspiracies, a desperate fight for survival, and also kissing.” It definitely sounds like a great combination for a Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster.

[Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment]