Author Xiran Jay Zhao’s New York Times best-selling book, ‘Iron Widow’ is set for a big screen adaptation, Variety has revealed. Erik Feig’s Picturestart has obtained rights to the adaptation and is planning a film franchise around the author’s work. JC Lee (Looking, How to Get Away with Murder) will is set to pen the screenplay.
Iron Widow is set in the fictional world of Huaxia where humanity is tormented by alien invaders. Their only best bet against aliens are giant transforming robots called Chrysalises, which require a male and female pairing to pilot.
However, that pairing is not created equally, male pilots are treated like celebrities, while female pilots must serve as their concubines. Also, the female pilots die disproportionately in battles, drained of their life force by their partner.
The story is also a retelling of the rise of Wu Zetian, the only female emperor in Chinese history, who ruled between 665 AD to 705 AD.
The protagonist is 18-year-old Zetian (a re-imagination of the empress), who offers herself up as a “disposable female concubine-pilot,” in order to avenge her sister who was killed by an ace male pilot.
She gets her vengeance in the most unexpected manner and becomes a force to be reckoned with. However, now she is deemed as a threat to the state when she may in fact be its only salvation.
The story serves as a mecha re-imagining of the Chinese Empress while the nation of Huaxia serves as a futuristic reinterpretation of Medieval China.
The book has been compared to the likes of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim both of which had a great reception by critics and fans alike. Highly popular among young adults, Iron Widow has been translated into 14 languages and sat on the bestseller list for 41 weeks.
Zhao, also a popular YouTuber, recently released another book, Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor, a hilarious, action-packed middle-grade contemporary fantasy novel.
Lee’s credits include HBO’s Looking starring Jonathan Groff, Murray Bartlett, Apple TV’s The Morning Show led by Jennifer Aniston and Rees Witherspoon, and Julius Onah’s upcoming Bad Genius.
Iron Widow will be produced by Picturestart’s Jessica Switch, Julia Hammer, and Feig while Samie Kim Falvey will serve as executive producer.
No actor or director has been attached to the project, yet, however, if done correctly the book certainly has a good fanbase that’ll support the franchise plans.