EXCLUSIVE: Morten Tyldum, the Scandinavian director who made Headhunters, will helm The Imitation Game, Graham Moore’s heralded screenplay about Alan Turing, the English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist who singlehandedly helped crack the German “Enigma Code” during World War II that helped the Allies stave off defeat. Tyldul will take on the project for Teddy Schwarzman’s Black Bear Pictures, with Schwarzman producing along with Ampersand Pictures’ Nora Grossman and Ido Ostrowsky. Moore will be exec producer.
Turing’s story, which topped the 2011 Black List, is hardly a happy hero tale. Not long after he made his contribution to toppling the Nazis in WWII, Britain criminally prosecuted him in the early 1950s for being a homosexual. He chose chemical castration over prison and was so demoralized that he eventually committed suicide by eating a cyanide-laced apple (legend has it that Turing’s advancements for what became the computer so inspired Steve Jobs that he named the company Apple).
The script originally sold in a seven-figure spec deal to Warner Bros, when it appeared that Leonardo DiCaprio was interested in starring. The studio put J Blakeson on the project, but the deal had a quick trigger and the rights reverted back to the screenwriter, who then got the job of adapting The Devil In The White City for Warner Bros. That’s being crafted for DiCaprio to play serial killer Dr. HH Holmes, with DiCaprio and Appian Way partner Jennifer Killoran and Double Feature partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher.
The expectation is that Black Bear will fully finance and won’t lock distribution until after. The script was so hotly chased that buyers will be waiting.
Black Bear launched early last year, and is a producer of Broken City, the Allen Hughes-directed drama that stars Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones, with Emmett/Furla financing and Fox distributing. Black Bear also produced the Ramin Bahrani-directed At Any Price with Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron, with Sony Pictures Classics releasing; Adult Childen Of Divorce, the comedy that stars Adam Scott, Richard Jenkins, Amy Poehler, Jessica Alba and Jane Lynch; and All Is Lost, the survival tale written and directed by Margin Call‘s J.C. Chandor, with Robert Redford starring.
Tyldum is repped by WME, Anonymous Content and attorney Michael Schenkman.