Netflix adaptation of Trent Dalton's Boy Swallows Universe to be shot in Brisbane

Netflix adaptation of Trent Dalton's Boy Swallows Universe to be shot in Brisbane

Trent Dalton (Photo courtesy of Better Read Events)

The Netflix adaption of Trent Dalton’s international best-selling novel Boy Swallows Universe is set to begin filming in Brisbane next month.

The eight-part series - which will be produced by Sydney-based Brouhaha Entertainment - has been adapted for the screen by John Colle, who also worked on Happy Feet, Master and Commander and Hotel Mumbai.

The production is expected to inject around $33 million into the Queensland economy and create approximately 185 jobs for cast and crew, in addition to roughly 2,500 extras.

“This adaptation to the screen couldn’t happen anywhere else, and I am proud to be part of this exciting adventure on my home turf,” said Dalton, who is currently a writer for The Weekend Australian Magazine and a former journalist at The Courier-Mail.

Boy Swallows Universe is my very deep and personal love letter to my city of Brisbane. I’m so incredibly honoured to know the Queensland Government and Screen Queensland is helping us mail that letter around the world.”

Set in 1980s Brisbane, Boy Swallows Universe is a coming-of-age novel about Eli Bell, who navigates growing up with an alcoholic father, addict mother, mute bother and a step-father who sells heroin.

The whirlwind story was first published four years ago by Harper Collins and holds the record as the fastest-selling Australian debut novel.

“Trent Dalton captivated the world with his brutal yet magical tale set in 1980s Brisbane among iconic local landmarks such as Boggo Road Gaol and Brisbane City Hall’s clock tower,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

Netflix’s series follows on from a critically-acclaimed stage adaptation by Queensland Theatre, which premiered at Brisbane Festival last year after delays due to COVID-19.

The series' executive producers include Troy Lum (The Water Diviner, Saving Mr Banks, Mao’s Last Dancer), Andrew Mason (The Matrix, The Water Diviner), Sophie Gardiner (Howard’s End, Chimerica), Kerry Kohansky-Roberts (Foe, Boy Erased) and Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby, Bright, The King).

Screen Queensland CEO Kylie Munnich said the series shines a spotlight on Brisbane as a sought-after screen location as well as one of the state’s prominent filmmaking hubs.

Other productions supported by the screen agency include NBC Universal’s series Young Rock and JOE vs CAROLE, Paramount Pictures’ Love and Monsters, Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla vs Kong, and the upcoming series Limbo for ABC.

“Brisbane has earned its reputation as a one-stop-shop for production, including film-friendly locations, experienced local crew, renowned post-production facilities and a fantastic studio facility in Screen Queensland Studios,” said Munnich.

“I thank Brouhaha Entertainment, Chapter One, Anonymous Content and Netflix for choosing the ‘river city’ to film Boy Swallows Universe, and look forward to seeing the words of this blockbuster novel come to life on screen featuring some of this city’s quintessential suburban locations.”

The news comes a day after Netflix announced it acquired Australian animation studio Animal Logic, which worked on blockbuster films such as Happy Feet and Peter Rabbit 1 & 2.

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