Production company Anonymous Content, whose previous film projects include Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Babel, and The Fifth Estate, has recently found increasing success on both the big and small screens. Along with critically-acclaimed series Mr. Robot and True Detective, Anonymous co-produced 2015's Best Picture of the Year, Spotlight. They're also behind The Revenant, the Oscar-winning drama that finally netted Leonardo DiCaprio a golden statue.
In contrast, best-selling psychological thriller The Butterfly Garden is only author Dot Hutchison's second novel. Her first published work, A Wounded Name, was a paranormal spin on Shakespeare's Hamlet, intended for the YA market. Her foray into darker territory with her debut in adult fiction appears to have paid off, with possible future success on the big screen as well as the page.
Anonymous Content and PalmStar Media, as Deadline reports, have optioned the film rights to The Butterfly Garden. The two companies recently collaborated on upcoming film Collateral Beauty, which features an all-star cast that includes Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, and Will Smith. Ashley Zalta and Michael Sugar of Anonymous and PalmStar’s Mark Fasano and Kevin Frakes will take on producing duties for the Hutchison adaptation.
The Butterfly Garden has been described by various readers and reviewers as both "beautiful" and "disturbing," with a plot that includes kidnapping, rape, and pedophilia. Producer Sugar has described the story as "uniquely original and transfixing." The official synopsis of the book reveals that the charmingly named garden is filled with unimaginable horrors:
"Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden. In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious 'butterflies' -- young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.
When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.
As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding..."
The optioning of Hutchison's book continues Anonymous' tradition of not shying away from challenging content. The book covers both the investigation and Maya's experience in shifting points of view, so it would be interesting to see what angle the film would take. Like the James Patterson films that made it to the big screen, Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls (also about a man "collecting" women), The Butterfly Garden could offer a sequel/franchise opportunity. The author is currently working on a follow-up, Roses of May, that features the FBI team on a new case -- though the "Butterflies have a way of lingering."
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for further updates on The Butterfly Garden.
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