J.G. Ballard’s novel High Rise has struggled to find its way to the big screen since its release in 1975. Producer Jeremy Thomas tried to get an adaptation going for years, with Nicolas Roeg set to direct at one point. David Cronenberg may have been a good choice, seeing as he adapted Ballard’s Crash in 1996 and has shown in his films similar themes and ideas to the author. It may have been too familiar, as Cronenberg’s Shivers also explored an outbreak of violence and hedonism in an apartment building, a film that oddly enough was released the same year as Ballard’s book. Jeremy Thomas saw Ben Wheatley’s 2013 film Sightseers, another film about ordinary people revealing a darker primal intent, before he was approached by the director to bring the long-gestating project to life.
Amy Jump, long-time collaborator with (and partner of) Wheatley, wrote the screenplay with him in the director’s chair. While Jump apparently prefers to let her work speak for itself, the director has spoken about the film numerous times as he toured England with the film earlier this year. Cronenberg’s Crash was cold and mechanical, but with High-Rise Jump and Wheatley brought out the humour in Ballard’s writing.