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Corona Pictures, FremantleMedia sign up JJ Connolly to pen TV adaptation of Wilbur Smith’s ‘Birds of Prey’

MUMBAI: Corona Pictures and television format creator, distributor FremantleMedia International have today confirmed that renowned author and Hollywood screenwriter JJ Connolly is lined up to write the TV adaption of the first three novels of Wilbur Smith’s Courtney series ‘Birds of Prey’.

The adaptation will mark the first time that a Wilbur Smith novel has been made for TV.

Corona Pictures co-founders Rupert Jermyn and Richard Johns commented, “We’re hugely excited to have attached JJ Connolly to Birds of Prey. As an influential and highly distinctive feature film screenwriter, JJ provides a unique voice and energy to screen storytelling that will bring Wilbur Smith’s epic narratives to a new generation of TV audiences worldwide.”

JJ Connolly commented, “I’m really excited to help bring Birds of Prey to TV screens around the world. It’s an exhilarating prospect. Wilbur Smith’s stories are big and expansive – his themes are universal and timeless. The thrilling challenge is to bring alive the passion and vision that Wilbur generated in his original novels, and deliver that power both to Wilbur’s legion of existing fans and to a new generation television audience.”

Connolly, best known for authoring British crime thriller ‘Layer Cake’, and penning the subsequent screenplay that brought it to the big screen, has already begun working on the project. His appointment has been fully endorsed by the books’ author, Wilbur Smith, after the two met earlier in the year to discuss Connolly’s plans for the adaptation:

“J.J. Connolly is an inspired choice to help bring Birds of Prey to life on TV. I have no doubt that he will help satisfy my fans who have been clamouring to see the Courtney saga dramatised for many years.” said Smith.

For Europeans in 1667 stepping onto the continent of Africa would have felt like landing on a faraway planet today. Birds of Prey is set against a backdrop of the uncharted, tantalising and enigmatic Africa of the 17th century, offering the promise of the adventure of a lifetime and riches beyond their wildest dreams. The series chronicles three generations of the Courtney family as they battle to secure the clan’s fortunes in a land where sea-faring empires, privateers, wild animals and settled African tribes and nations fight it out for control of the land and its treasures.

The series will be produced by Richard Johns and Rupert Jermyn who founded Corona Pictures in 2009. FremantleMedia International will co-develop the series and distribute it internationally. It will be showcased at next month’s television trade event MipTV in Cannes, France.

Jermyn and Johns added, “We’re thrilled to be bringing Wilbur Smith’s action thriller stories Birds of Prey, Monsoon and Blue Horizon to the small screen,” added. “Wilbur is one of the globally biggest-selling novelists of all time and, like millions of others worldwide, we’ve loved his books. We saw a massive opportunity to bring Wilbur’s world, his characters and stories to an even wider audience internationally through the medium of TV. This is a highly ambitious, cinematic series where every episode will feel like a movie of its own.”

FremantleMedia director of global drama Sarah Doole said, “Wilbur is a world-class writer whose works require vision, passion and a sense of the epic if they are to be adapted properly. But with a screenwriter of JJ Connolly’s calibre, plus Richard and Rupert’s impressive track record, I think the stars have truly aligned on this project. FremantleMedia is incredibly excited to be part of this adventure and we look forward to talking to international networks in order to bring the series to global audiences.”