Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Films has produced just one movie in the last 15 years ("The Great Debaters"), and Winfrey herself has starred in just one film of her own ("Lee Daniels' The Butler). But Harpo on Tuesday made a big move on the development front, acquiring the film rights to Sue Monk Kidd's bestseller "The Invention of Wings."
Kidd's slavery-era novel looks at the contrasting stories of a preteen abolitionist and the slave she is given, following the two as they and the world around them changes over the next three decades. The book has been a big seller and earned rave reviews; a critic at the Dallas Morning News called it "as close to perfect as any [book] I've ever read."
In a statement, Winfrey said that the book offers "a rich narrative, compelling characters, and a rare historical perspective that we know will be the ideal foundation for a wonderful film." Winfrey has previously expressed her admiration for "Invention" in another way, choosing it for her Oprah 2.0 Book Club.
That all adds up to some high stakes for the film version of the book, though in some respects the expectations will be manageable: the film adaptation of Kidd's previous bestseller, "The Secret Life of Bees," was a commercial and critical underperformer.