Nia DaCosta Set to Adapt Ta-Nehisi Coates’ ‘The Water Dancer’ for MGM

The "Candyman" director has set her sights on bringing Coates' first novel to the screen.
Nia DaCosta
Nia DaCosta

Nia DaCosta is confirmed to direct the film adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ debut novel “The Water Dancer” for MGM, as reported on April 18.

“The Water Dancer” follows Young Hiram Walker, who was born into bondage, per an official synopsis. As a child, Hiram loses his mother and, over time, all memory of her. Now a young man, Hiram almost drowns when he crashes a carriage into a river, but is saved from the depths by a mysterious power he never realized he had and struggles to understand.

“The Water Dancer” was named Oprah Winfrey’s first Apple TV+ book club selection in 2019, and Winfrey is a producer on the adaptation with production company Harpo Films. Author Coates co-produces with Maceo-Lyn along with Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment. “The Water Dancer” is the second film to be a collaboration between Coates and Plan B, following “Wrong Answer,” based on Rachel Aviv’s “New Yorker” article of the same name. Coates is penning the adaptation, with Ryan Coogler directing and Michael B. Jordan starring.

Director DaCosta made her feature debut with “Little Woods” which starred Tessa Thompson and Lily James. The Sundance Institute–developed film premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival before being distributed theatrically by Neon. DaCosta’s sophomore film, the “Candyman” sequel for MGM, was released by Universal Pictures in August 2021 and made history at the box office as the first No. 1 film from a Black female director.

DaCosta was tapped to direct MCU installment “The Marvels,” a sequel to “Captain Marvel” starring Brie Larson, and is currently in pre-production on “The Lincoln Conspiracy” series.

The director previously told IndieWire that the horror film genre is an “effective tool” to share stories with a social impact. “The very function of it is to make you uncomfortable,” DaCosta said. “I think if that discomfort is attached to explorations of race or gender you have to then reconcile your feelings about race and gender.”

“The Water Dancer” is part of Plan B’s second-look feature film deal with MGM, which was recently acquired by Amazon. Upcoming Plan B-MGM projects include writer/director Sarah Polley’s adaptation of the novel “Women Talking,” as well as “Landscape With Invisible Hand,” co-produced by Annapurna Pictures and adapted by M.T. Anderson’s novel of the same name. Bestselling author Chandler Baker’s “The Husbands” is also in the works with the studio, as Kristen Wiig is slated to star and produce.

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