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Barry Jenkins wants to make a sci-fi movie on the scale of Black Panther

Photo: Slaven Vlasic (Getty Images)

The world is Barry Jenkins’ oyster, what with the Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk director having just inked a first look deal with Amazon Studios. He’s currently consumed with adapting Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Underground Railroad for the studio, but he’s also got some big ideas about where he’d like to go next.

In a new interview with Vulture, Jenkins revealed that, after specializing in deeply felt tales of love, race, and sexuality, he’d like to pivot to genre. “I think now I want to grow aesthetically. I would love to do a sci-fi film,” he said, noting that he’s a fan of space-obsessed director Denis Villeneuve. Villeneuve has indeed proven himself a devotee of the genre, as he’s now following the one-two punch of Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 with a two-part adaptation of Frank Herbert’s some-might-say unadaptable Dune.


Though it’s easy to see Jenkins’ lyrical, romantic style set against the vast mysteries of the stars, the director doesn’t seem interested in something as intimate as his previous work. “I’m friends with Ryan Coogler,” he continued, “and I look at what he did going from Fruitvale to Creed to Black Panther. And you watch Black Panther, no one else could have made that. If there was a character or a world that really suited my voice, absolutely. I love cinema of all different scales, and I would love to play on that scale some day.”

For now, however, he asserts that The Underground Railroad, for which he’ll direct all 11 episodes, is his number one priority. “That’s my destiny,” he said.

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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.