Picturestart Nabs YA Bestseller ‘Iron Widow’ for Film Franchise (EXCLUSIVE)

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Iron Widow,” the New York Times bestselling novel by Xiran Jay Zhao, is headed to the big screen.

Erik Feig’s Picturestart has obtained adaptive rights and is plotting a franchise around the science fiction premise, with J.C. Lee (of the forthcoming “Bad Genius” remake) set to write the screenplay.

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The book is set in the fictional world of Huaxia, where humanity’s only hope against alien invaders are giant transforming robots called Chrysalises, which require a boy-girl pair to pilot. These roles are not created equally, however — girl pilots die disproportionately in battle, drained of life force by the boy pilots. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a “disposable female concubine-pilot,” a synopsis said, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. She gets her vengeance in a way nobody expects. Now a force to be reckoned with, she is deemed a threat to the state when she may in fact be its only salvation.

Picturestart’s Jessica Switch and Julia Hammer will produce with Feig. Samie Kim Falvey will executive produce. The novel — comparable to “The Hunger Games” and “Pacific Rim” — has sat on the bestseller list for 41 weeks, and has been translated into 14 languages. Adopted early by TikTok’s prolific “BookTok” community, “Iron Widow” won the 2021 BSFA Award for best book for younger readers, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award and the Barnes & Noble Children’s & YA Book Awards.

Screenwriter Lee’s credits include “Luce,” “To My Girls,” “Looking,” “Love, Victor” and “The Morning Show. He is represented by CAA, LBI Entertainment and Erik Hyman at Paul Hastings. Zhao, who is also a popular YouTuber and content creator, is represented by BookEnds Literary. Christina Tajalli brokered the deal on behalf of Picturestart; Erik Hyman on behalf of UTA; and CAA on behalf of Rachel Brooks of BookEnds Literary.

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