EXCLUSIVE: CBS Films has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Winchester, a fascinating atmospheric thriller with basis in fact that has Helen Mirren playing an heiress to a gun-making fortune who builds a massive mansion to atone for guilt over the weapons. Bullitt Entertainment and Diamond Pictures made the deal for a film that will be directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig (Predestination) from the script they wrote with Tom Vaughan. Imagination Design Works’ Brett Tomberlin and Blacklab Entertainment’s Tim McGahan producing.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock (5701065g) Helen Mirren The Museum of Modern Art Party in the Garden, New York, America - 01 Jun 2016

Mirren plays firearms heiress Sarah Winchester, who was convinced that she was haunted by the souls killed at the hands of the Winchester repeating rifle. After the sudden deaths of her husband and child, she threw herself into the 24/7 construction of an enormous mansion designed to keep the evil spirits at bay. But when skeptical San Francisco psychiatrist Eric Price is dispatched to the estate to evaluate her state of mind, he discovers that her obsession might not be so insane after all. The film will take audiences inside the labyrinth-like Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, which is believed to be one of the most haunted places in the world.

Sarah Winchester
CBS Films

“We were immediately obsessed with the Spierig brothers’ intelligent and twisted take on a great American legend and could not be more excited to be working with the Spierig brothers and Dame Helen Mirren to bring this film to audiences,” said Scott Shooman, EVP Acquisitions and Co-Productions at CBS Films.

Added the Spierigs: “We were impressed by CBS Films’ experience with the genre and their passion for and understanding of the material and know that they are the perfect U.S. Distribution partner for this film.”

The film is financed by Bullitt Entertainment, Diamond Pictures and Blacklab Entertainment, with Diamond Pictures handling international sales. Bullitt’s Benedict Carver, Diamond’s Daniel Diamond and Tobin Armbrust are executive producing. Andy Trapani, Toni Lianos, Brian Gilbert, Marc Shipper and Simon Oakes also will serve as executive producers. Production will begin in March on location in San Jose and in Australia. CBS Films’ latest release, the acclaimed action thriller Hell or High Water, opens Friday in limited release.

Benedict Carver, Daniel Diamond and WME brokered the deal with CBS Films.