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Focus Features pick up Darkest Hour. Gary Oldman will be Churchill

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Continuing creative collaborations that began over a decade ago, premier specialty label Focus Features is reteaming with both Working Title Films, one of the world’s leading film production companies, and director Joe Wright on Darkest Hour. Focus will hold worldwide rights to the film as part of the company’s renewed global initiative; Focus will release Darkest Hour domestically on November 24th, 2017 in the U.S. and Universal Pictures International (UPI) will distribute the film around the world, beginning with the U.K. on December 29th, 2017. Production on Darkest Hour begins this fall.

Mr. Wright will direct Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. The original screenplay is by Anthony McCarten, an Academy Award nominee and BAFTA Award winner as screenwriter of Focus and Working Title’s The Theory of Everything. Mr. McCarten is producing Darkest Hour with Lisa Bruce and Working Title co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, all of whom were Academy Award-nominated as producers of Best Picture Oscar nominee The Theory of Everything. Mr. Oldman was a Best Actor Academy Award nominee for Focus and Working Title’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Within days of becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill must face one of his most turbulent and defining trials: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or standing firm to fight for the ideals, liberty and freedom of a nation. As the unstoppable Nazi forces roll across Western Europe and the threat of invasion is imminent, and with an unprepared public, a skeptical King, and his own party plotting against him, Churchill must withstand his darkest hour, rally a nation, and attempt to change the course of world history.

Joining Mr. Oldman in the cast are Academy Award nominee John Hurt as Neville Chamberlain, whom Churchill succeeded as Prime Minister; Lily James (Downton Abbey, Cinderella) as Churchill’s personal secretary; Golden Globe Award nominee Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI; and Academy Award nominee Kristin Scott Thomas as Churchill’s wife, Clementine.

Mr. Wright, a BAFTA Award winner, is making his fourth feature with Working Title and Focus; the director’s previous films with the companies were Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, and Anna Karenina, which combined won two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and four BAFTA Awards. He also directed for Focus the hit thriller Hanna, starring Saoirse Ronan.

Focus chairman Peter Kujawski commented, “Everyone at Focus is proud to be the longtime home to Joe Wright and our partners at Working Title, and thrilled to once again be working with the gifted Anthony McCarten and the legendary Gary Oldman. Darkest Hour is about a visionary leader who stood firm in the face of tremendous pressure to abandon his unique point of view on the world, so it is fitting that his story will be told by these visionary filmmakers.”

Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner have been co-chairs of Working Title Films, one of the world’s leading film production companies, since 1992. Working Title has made more than 100 films that have grossed over $6 billion worldwide. Its films have won 12 Academy Awards (for Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables and The Danish Girl; James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything; Tim Robbins’ Dead Man Walking; Joel and Ethan Coen’s Fargo; Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth andElizabeth: The Golden Age; and Joe Wright’s Atonement and Anna Karenina), 39 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards, and prizes at the Cannes and Berlin International Film Festivals.

Mr. Bevan and Mr. Fellner have been honored with the Producers Guild of America’s David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures, the PGA’s highest honor for motion picture producers. They have been accorded two of the highest film awards given to British filmmakers: the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema award at the BAFTA Awards, and the Alexander Walker Film Award at the Evening Standard British Film Awards.  They have also both been honored with CBEs (Commanders of the Order of the British Empire).

The company’s commercial and critical hits include The Interpreter, About a Boy, Notting Hill, Elizabeth, Fargo, Dead Man Walking, Bean, High Fidelity, Johnny English, Billy Elliot, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Love Actually, Shaun of the Dead, Pride & Prejudice, Nanny McPhee, United 93, Mr. Bean’s Holiday, Hot Fuzz, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Burn After Reading, Frost/Nixon, Atonement, Senna, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Anna Karenina, Les Misérables, I Give It A Year, About Time, Rush, The Two Faces of January, Trash, The Theory of Everything, Legend, Everest, The Programme, The Danish Girl, Grimsby, and Hail, Caesar!

Working Title’s upcoming slate includes Bridget Jones’s Baby, directed by Sharon Maguire and starring Renée Zellwegger, Colin Firth, and Patrick Dempsey; The Snowman, directed by Tomas Alfredson and starring Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, and Val Kilmer; Baby Driver, directed by Edgar Wright and starring Lily James, Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, and Jamie Foxx; and, also with Focus releasing domestically and UPI distributing around the world, Stephen Frears’ Victoria and Abdul, to star Dame Judi Dench as Queen Victoria.

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