EXCLUSIVE: Helen Mirren is finalizing a deal to play Sarah Winchester, the conflicted multimillionaire heiress to the Winchester Arms fortune in Winchester. The supernatural thriller will be helmed early next year by Daybreakers helmers Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig, based on the world famous Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA. Winchester’s husband and child died suddenly, and she became convinced she had been cursed by the legal legacy of the “gun that won the West.” A medium sent her to San Jose in 1884 to begin a massive 38-year 24/7 construction of a 24,000-square foot, 160-room Gothic mansion. The Spierigs wrote the most recent draft of the script after Tom Vaughan wrote the first draft. The film is set for financing by Diamond Pictures and Bullitt Entertainment, and territories will be sold here in the Cannes market. It was developed by Imagination Design Works, which owns the rights to the house and is squarely involved, meaning the film will be the first to shoot on the premises of the actual home that Time Magazine called one of the “Most Haunted Places in the World.”
Landing the Oscar-winning Mirren, who most recently starred in the hit Eye in the Sky as well as Trumbo and Woman in Gold, brings gravitas to the eccentric title character. IDW’s Brett Tomberlin and Blacklab’s Tim McGahan are producing, with Bullitt’s Benedict Carver, Diamond’s Daniel Diamond and Tobin Armbrust the exec producers. Andy Trapani, Tony Lianos, Brian Gilbert, Marc Shipper and Simon Oakes are also exec producers. Shooting will begin later this year in San Jose and Australia.
Diamond and Bullitt are co-financing the pic with Australia’s Blacklab Entertainment, with Diamond selling international territories and WME Global and CAA will broker the U.S. rights deal.
Mirren is repped by CAA; the Spierigs are repped by WME; IDW is repped by Michael Black Management and Mark Temple Law and Blacklab by Marshalls+ Dent Lawyers. Sheppard Mullin repped Diamond and Bullitt.