As announced last August, J.G. Ballard's dystopian High-Rise is finally getting its chance on screen, with Ben Wheatley directing and Amy Jump writing the screenplay. Film4 are the backers with Jeremy Thomas producing, and Wheatley has just announced the film's first casting: Tom Hiddleston has been installed at the top.
Ballard's 1975 satirical sci-fi novel takes place in a tower block, which is supposed to be a gleaming new, exciting and exotic home for its affluent residents, but ends up isolating and factionalising them into all-out war, with the surface sophistication degenerating to primal savagery. In short, it seems a perfect vehicle to continue the idiosyncratic humour-and-horror proclivities of the team behind Kill List, Sightseers and A Field In England.
There's no indication yet of who Hiddleston will play, but if the film sticks close to the book there are three possibilities. The story's main characters / residents are cunning and aggressive TV producer Richard Wilder (prole: 2nd floor); antisocial physiologist Dr Robert Laing (middle class: 25th floor); and the wealthy, laid-back architect Anthony Royal, who designed the building himself and lives in the penthouse. Since Wilder is an ex-rugby player we can probably discount him. For spoilery reasons, we would put our money on Hiddleston as Laing.
Thomas has been attempting to get High-Rise made for decades, and the project has passed through the hands of directors Nicolas Roeg and Vincenzo Natali, and screenwriters Rudy Wurlitzer and Richard Stanley. Wheatley and Jump have started from scratch, however, with Wheatley promising that his film "will be challenging like [David Cronenberg's 1996 Ballard adaptation] Crash, but not as dark as Kill List".
Shooting, as also revealed this morning, is currently scheduled for June.