Netflix has ordered Brouhaha Entertainment’s adaptation of Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe, more than two years after publisher HarperCollins announced it had sold the screen rights to the author’s debut novel.
Happy Feet scribe John Collee will write an eight-part series based on the semi-autobiographical book, which has gone on to sell more than 500,000 copies since its release in 2018.
The story centres on Eli Bell, a young boy growing up in Brisbane during the 1980s that is forced to navigate a lost father, a mute brother, a junkie mum, a heroin dealer for a stepfather, and a notorious crim for a babysitter.
Executive producing are Troy Lum and Andrew Mason of Brouhaha, alongside Blue-Tongue Films’ Joel Edgerton, Chapter One’s Sophie Gardiner, and Anonymous Content’s Kerry Roberts.
In a statement, Dalton said he had always dreamed about what it would be like to see stories on his television screen from the world he knew.
“When I was a boy, television was an escape,” he said.
“You can’t see the holes in the fibro walls when all you see is Winnie Cooper’s face on The Wonder Years.
“I never saw the world I knew in books, in movies, in television. That often brutal suburban Australian world that was just outside my window and the magical world secretly growing inside my head.
“Boy Swallows Universe is every aspect of that world. And people across this wild earth are about to step inside that world with their ears and eyes and hearts wide open.”
Netflix director of originals in Australia Que Minh Luu said the commission was a coup for the streamer’s ANZ branch.
“Boy Swallows Universe is truly something special, and it’s an enormous privilege to partner with Trent Dalton, Joel Edgerton, and Brouhaha Entertainment in bringing this genuinely iconic Australian story to Netflix,” she said.
“As Australians, we know how much investing in local content matters. Boy Swallows Universe is a major milestone in our mission to unearth uniquely local stories that bring joy and connection in unexpected ways to our audiences here at home, and throughout the world.”
Casting for the series is expected to start next week.