EXCLUSIVE: Cannes prize-winning Mexican filmmaker Alonso Alvarez-Barreda (Snowfall) has optioned Kaira Rouda’s USA Today bestselling thriller Beneath the Surface for development as a feature, which he will direct and produce. Also aboard to produce for Good Fear Content are Jake Weiner and Chris Bender. The team is currently meeting with writers to adapt the book, published in September 2023, which is billed as The White Lotus meets Succession.
The first book in Rouda’s Kingsley Family Series, to be followed up by Under the Palms on May 21st, Beneath the Surface introduces readers to the story of the wealthy Kingsley family of Southern California. At the center of the action are the power-hungry children of an aging billionaire, who prove unprepared for a storm of deceptions and ruthless family ambition, while out on a weekend voyage.
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Alvarez-Barreda came to team with Weiner and Bender following his recent work with the duo on the upcoming Satanic Panic series Hysteria! for Peacock. In a statement to Deadline, he shared that he “could not put the book down” and “knew [he] had to find a way to speak with Kaira and make this film. Added the filmmaker, “I loved working with Jake and Chris on Hysteria! and have been wanting to find another project to make with them. Beneath the Surface is the perfect next project to continue that relationship – and hope for many more.”
Stated producers Weiner and Bender, “Kaira has written such a compelling book with incredibly rich characters, and we’re honored to be working with her. Alonso Alvarez is a truly gifted filmmaker and is the perfect person to bring this film to life.”
Rouda shared, for her part, that she “couldn’t ask for a better team to bring The Kingsley family to life.”
Best known for his directing work on FX’s Snowfall and Apple TV+’s The Mosquito Coast, Alvarez-Barreda has also previously been tapped to helm episodes of American Horror Stories, Big Sky, Mayans M.C., The Chi and 9-1-1, among other series. His first feature, The Wingwalker, is slated for release this fall.
Award-winning author Rouda has seen her works translated into more than 10 languages to date. Other past works include the domestic suspense novels Somebody’s Home, The Next Wife, The Widow, The Favorite Daughter and Best Day Ever.
A veteran producer behind everything from the American Pie franchise to the Hangover films and Disney’s recent live-action take on Mulan, Bender launched management and production company Good Fear Content in 2016, with Weiner as a partner. Currently in production on Hysteria! alongside UCP, the company is in post on New Line horror comedy The Parenting and My Spy: The Eternal City, the sequel to the spy pic garnering significant pandemic viewership following its sale from STX to Amazon. Good Fear’s development slate includes two titles from David Robert Mitchell — an untitled Anne Hathaway starrer for Warner Bros., which is ramping up for production, and They Follow, Mitchell’s follow-up to his modern cult classic horror pic It Follows, which bowed out of Cannes in 2014.
Alvarez-Barreda is represented by Verve and Mosaic; Rouda by JRA Literary Agency and The Gotham Group.
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