Bleecker Street and Participant Media announced today they have jointly acquired North American rights to The Imaginarium Studios’ Breathe directed by Andy Serkis. Written by the two-time Academy Award nominated William Nicholson (Gladiator, Shadowlands) and shot by three-time Academy Award winner Robert Richardson (The Aviator, JFK, Hugo), Breathe stars Andrew Garfield as the real-life Robin Cavendish, whose life takes a dramatic turn when polio leaves him almost totally paralyzed.

Claire Foy (The Crown) plays Robin’s devoted wife Diana. Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) plays their family friend, inventor Professor Teddy Hall. Tom Hollander plays both David and Bloggs Blacker – Diana’s identical twin brothers.

Breathe is an important film for us at The Imaginarium,” said Serkis. “Our company has all aspects of great performance at the centre of everything we do, and Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy give extraordinary performances in our film. We are thrilled that Bleecker Street and Participant Media share our enthusiasm and excitement for Breathe, and we are confident that they are the right theatrical partners for us in North America.”

Andrew Karpen, CEO of Bleecker Street stated, “We were so moved by William’s script and the powerful and inspirational story of Robin and Diana’s lives. We are really excited to be working with Andy, Imaginarium and Embankment on such a joyous and beautiful story.”

Participant Media’s Jonathan King, EVP Narrative Film, said “Andy is an exciting and innovative filmmaker and we have been looking forward to working with him for years.  We are especially grateful to Jonathan Cavendish for letting us be a part of bringing his family’s inspirational story to the screen.”

The film is produced by Jonathan Cavendish (Bridget Jones Diary) for The Imaginarium Studios. Financing is from Silver Reel, BBC Films and the BFI, brokered by Embankment Films. Phil Robertson executive produces for The Imaginarium, Claudia Blüemhuber and Ian Hutchinson for Silver Reel and Christine Langan for BBC Films.

The acquisition was negotiated by Kent Sanderson and Avy Eschenasy on behalf of Bleecker Street, Jonathan King and Gabriel Brakin for Participant Media, and Embankment’s Tim Haslam on behalf of Imaginarium. Embankment also represents international rights where the film is pre-sold to over 30 territories.

Bleecker and Participant are at the Toronto fest with the world premiere of Mick Jackson’s Denial, starring Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, and Timothy Spall.