Annette Bening and Bill Nighy are teaming to star in Hope Gap, the new movie from Oscar-nominated Gladiator and Shadowlands scribe William Nicholson, who penned the script for the family drama and is directing. The pic, a “nuanced and tender take on familial disbandment,” is in pre-production with an eye on a summer 2018 production start. Origin Pictures’ David M. Thompson is producing.

Protagonist is handling international sales and co-repping North American sales with CAA, with the project to be introduced to buyers at the upcoming American Film Market.

The plot centers on Grace and Edward, who have been married 29 years. When their son Jamie comes to visit for the weekend at their seaside home, Edward informs him that he plans to leave Grace — the next day. The pic follows the unravelling of three lives through tstages of shock, disbelief and anger, to a resolution, of sorts.

“Ever since Shadowlands I’ve been obsessed by the collision of love and pain; Hope Gap is the most intense, most painful, and most loving story I’ve ever told,” said Nicholson, whose writing credits include Les Misérables, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Unbroken and most recently Breathe starring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy. “I’m so proud to have Annette Bening and Bill Nighy to tell it for me.”

Bening, who currently stars in the awards-season pic Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, is repped by CAA. Nighy is repped by CAA and Markham, Froggatt. Nicholson is also repped by CAA.