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Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Films Acquires Film Rights To 'The Invention of Wings' by Sue Monk Kidd

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by Tambay A. Obenson
March 11, 2014 2:51 PM
5 Comments
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Well, we did wonder if this would happen, when, in December, OWN: Oprah Winfrey NetworkO, The Oprah Magazine and Oprah.com announced the newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.

It's no longer speculation because Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Films announced today that it has acquired the film rights to the The Invention of Wings

The book debuted in January at #1 on the New York Times Bestsellers List.

In her book, Sue Monk Kidd has given us such a rich narrative, compelling characters, and a rare historical perspective that we know will be the ideal foundation for a wonderful film,” said Oprah Winfrey. 

Here's a synopsis:

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old slave Hetty, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love. As the stories build to a riveting climax, Hetty will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister as one of the early pioneers in the drive to abolish slavery.

An exclusive interview with Oprah and Kidd will be broadcast on Super Soul Sunday, on April 13 at 11am ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

It's the right time for since its subject matter suits current film trends. And by that I mean the novel is set in the early 19th century USA and is centered around the life of a slave, at least in part.

By the way, Kidd also wrote The Secret Life of Bees, which became a feature film in 2008, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, produced by Will Smith, with Jada Pinkett Smith as executive producer, and starring Queen LatifahJennifer HudsonSophie OkonedoAlicia Keys and Dakota Fanning.

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5 Comments

  • Akim | March 11, 2014 10:38 PMReply

    Oprah always loves telling stories about black female characters that are set in the past, never the PRESENT! Aren't there any interesting stories that can be told about black life that is set in the present day?

  • Marie | March 13, 2014 3:54 PM

    Agreed. Like Tyler Perry, I think Oprah is using storytelling to deal with her personal demons. Her upbringing in the south during Jim Crow has colored her world view despite her accomplishments. And I agree with the other poster who predicted a box-office failure like Bees and Beloved. NO ONE in the United States wants to see a fictionalized version of oppression—blacks don't want to see themselves as victims and whites don't want to see themselves as oppressors. Oprah is so caught up in her own personal reaction to the material that she's blinded to the obvious fact that most people aren't interested in paying $12 to experience this story (Beloved never should have been made into a film.) But now she's emboldened by the (unwarranted) success of The Butler (and why did anyone think that overdone POS was Oscar-worthy?!) and thinks there's a huge audience for this material. If she's thinking clearly, she'll make it for tv. BTW, I stopped reading Bees after about 10 pages thinking it was amateurishly written.

  • Just Sayin | March 11, 2014 3:54 PMReply

    I predict this, like "Beloved" and "Bees" will BOMB at the box office.

    While I believe narratives related to both the era, and post-era, of slavery are
    important and have a great deal of validity, there are so many more important,
    REAL stories about REAL heroines, such as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth,
    Phyllis Wheatley, and many, many more that, like Northrup's story, deserve to
    be told, and need to be told.

    I believe one key to "12YAS" success is that it was a REAL story, about a real human being, and
    his own humanity. And I think that is going to be key, going, forward, if other producers/writers/directors expect similar projects to achieve any success with audiences.

    Audiences, clearly, aren't interested in watching FICTIONALIZED accounts of the slave period,
    no matter how much research the writer conducted. And neither black, nor white, audiences responded to Oprah's previous "period" efforts, which were made, mainly, because they were pet projects, not because they had any potential for a significant ROI.

    But I guess when you're a billionaire you can afford to waste $$$ on projects that the majority of moviegoers aren't interested in seeing. It's so disappointing to see someone as smart as Oprah, wasting time on a project like this, instead of trying to work with younger, fresh, talented writers, and producers, of color who are trying to bring modern portrayals of black people to the screen.

  • JulieB | March 11, 2014 4:36 PM

    Oprah's execution is all wrong. This book is amazing and has the potential to be an Oscar film, if it is executed properly. Oprah has money, but she doesn't know how to put together the necessary people to create a great film. This should be done as a small indie film, not some bloated budget film.

  • JulieB | March 11, 2014 3:19 PMReply

    Oh yes, thank goodness! I'm reading this book now, not yet finished. I love it, it's one of those book you can finish in 2 days even though it's nearly 400 pages. When this becomes a film, I hope a quality director makes the film. No Tyler Perry or even Lee Daniels, I would like to see a black female director.

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