Ava DuVernay‘s moving drama “Origin,” which tells the story of author Isabel Wilkerson’s journey to write her famous nonfiction novel “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent,” is the latest film to be making the switch from an adapted screenplay run, to original. Deemed an original screenplay by the Writers Guild of America, the announcement comes after Variety reported “Barbie” from Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach and “The Bikeriders” by Jeff Nichols, were also deemed original by the WGA. In addition to the aforementioned films, DuVernay’s script will also compete for one of the five coveted Oscar slots against other top-tier contenders such as “The Holdovers” from David Hemingson and “Past Lives” from Celine Song.
“Origin” boasts an all-star cast including Oscar nominee Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor (“King Richard”), Jon Bernthal and Niecy Nash-Betts.
The original designation will stick for the crucial WGA Awards precursors in January, but when it comes to the Academy, the Writer’s Branch committee has the authority to move it elsewhere. We won’t know the answer to that question until voting begins.
In years past, films including “Moonlight” (2016) were campaigned and labeled as “original” by the WGA, due to the play it was based on never being published, but were moved to adapted by the committee. It went on to win the category, along with two other Oscars, including best picture. Other switched scripts over the years include nominees “Syriana” (2005) and “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” (2018) and non-nominated films like “Loving” (2016).
Following Isabel’s harrowing journey to write the bestseller, she grapples with tremendous personal tragedy, with the film inserting excerpts of the book through narration.
The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival before moving onto Toronto. It also recently added an original song to its Oscar prospects, “I Am,” sung by New Zealand Māori artist Stan Walker performed the new song, who also co-wrote it with Michael Fatkin, Vince Harder and Te Kanapu Anasta.
“Origin” will open in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 8 before going nationwide on Jan. 19, 2024.
The Hollywood Reporter was first to report the news.
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