Sony Pictures Television has partnered with Jill Green’s UK firm on Rendlesham and the Hollywood studio will take the international rights to the series.
Rendlesham is inspired by a “real-life” UFO incident, which took place at a US air base close to the village of Rendlesham, Suffolk in 1980. Several people in the village’s small forest including a number of air force servicemen claimed to witness a glowing object in the sky before it flew off into the trees. The sighting was recorded by Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt in an official report that was made public in 1983 but was subsequently rubbished by other officers, leading to many conspiracy theories.
The series, which will revolve around a family in the area, is played out against the Cold War. It will feature dual timelines, one during the time of the sightings in 1980 and one in 2020, the anniversary of the event.
Ahearne, who is represented by United Agents, will write and direct the series; he previously worked on David Goyer’s Starz drama Da Vinci’s Demons and directed five episodes of Doctor Who in 2005. He also directed BBC1 drama The Replacement, produced by The Crown producer Left Bank Pictures, and co-wrote the screenplay for Danny Boyle’s 2013 psychological thriller Trance, which starred James McAvoy.
Sony Pictures Television’s international production division, lead by recently promoted president Wayne Garvie and Eleventh Films will pitch the show to broadcasters and streaming services in the U.S and UK.
It will be exec produced by Ahearne, Green and Eleventh Hour’s Eve Gutierrez.
Gutierrez called Ahearne a “master story-teller” with a “long standing fascination for science fiction”.
Ahearne said: “When Eleventh Hour Films drew my attention to this extraordinary piece of British and American history it pressed all my buttons and I think it will do the same for a wide audience.”
Garvie added: “The Cold War, Cruise Missiles, UFOs – Joe is taking extraordinary tales and giving them even more compelling twists. As a local lad, I can’t wait to see him bring his vision of Suffolk to the world.”