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Level Forward has acquired the rights to Walter Tevis' 1983 book, which served as the basis for the smash Netflix show

By Georgia Slater
March 08, 2021 02:31 PM
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best of tv 2020 - the queens gambit
Credit: Charlie Gray/Netflix

Beth Harmon is making her next big move.

The hit Netflix series The Queen's Gambit may become a musical as production company Level Forward has acquired theatrical stage rights to Walter Tevis' book about the fictional chess prodigy.

Level Forward, which produced popular shows like Jagged Little Pill and the revival of Oklahoma!, has not announced a creative team or casting details.

"It is a privilege for Level Forward to lead the charge of bringing The Queen's Gambit to the stage through the beloved and enduring craft of musical theater," Level Forward CEO Adrienne Becker and producer Julia Dunetz said in a statement. "Told through a brave and fresh point of view, audiences are already sharing in the friendship and fortitude of the story's inspiring women who energize and sustain Beth Harmon's journey and ultimate triumph."

"The story is a siren call amidst our contemporary struggles for gender and racial equity, and we're looking forward to moving the project forward," they added.

According to Variety, the deal was brokered on Tevis Family Trust by Susan Schulman of the Susan Schulman Literary Agency, New York and Rachel Gould on behalf of Level Forward.

The seven-episode Netflix limited series is based Tevis' 1983 novel of the same name, which combines the author's real-life experiences playing chess with fictional characters.

The Queen's Gambit
Anya Taylor-Joy in The Queen's Gambit
| Credit: PHIL BRAY/NETFLIX

The show, set in the 1950s and 60s, stars Anya Taylor-Joy as the fictional Beth Harmon, an orphan and chess prodigy who is determined to break into the male-dominated world of competitive chess. As a child, Beth was force-fed pills at her orphanage, leaving her with a drug addiction that complicates her ascent to world-class chess champion.

The series became Netflix's most-viewed scripted limited series, garnering over 62 million viewers in its first month on the streaming site.

The Netflix adaptation has won two Golden Globe Awards and two Critics Choice Awards.

At one point in the 1990s, the novel almost became a feature film.

"Many directors have tried to make it. Heath Ledger was set to direct this as a film a few years before he died. This was going to be his directing debut,"  series writer and director Scott Frank told Forbes, adding, "It fell through because it just wasn't the type of movie being made at the time."