Imelda Staunton, Freddie Highmore, Miranda Hart and Toby Jones have joined the voice cast of The Canterville Ghost which reunites Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. Kim Burdon is directing the adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s story that’s penned by Giles New and Keiron Self. The animated film is produced by Robert Chandler and Gina Carter with Content kicking off sales in Cannes. Fry plays Sir Simon de Canterville who has been haunting his ancestral home in rural England for over 300 years, scaring off tenants with ease and aplomb — until the Otis family moves in from America. The Canterville Ghost has previously been made in several iterations from TV movies to features and radio plays with such talent as John Gielgud, Charles Laughton and David Niven. This is the first time it will be animated. Staunton, Highmore and Jones are represented by Artist Rights Group, Miranda Hart is with Troika.
BBC Films has added The Lady In The Van to its Cannes slate. Maggie Smith will star in the adaptation of Alan Bennett’s memoir to be directed by Nicholas Hytner. Alex Jennings (The Queen) is playing Bennett in the story that’s based on the playwright’s experiences with Miss Shepherd, a vagrant who parked her out old van in his driveway and stayed for 15 years. Kevin Loader, Damian Jones and Hytner will produce. BBC Films is also producing City Of Tiny Lights starring Riz Ahmed and Roshan Seth and directed by Pete Travis. Patrick Neate is adapting his own novel about a cynical London private eye drawn deep into the criminal underbelly while on a case.
Peter Sarsgaard is joining Vera Farmiga in Prima, a feel-good comedy about a badass ballerina that starts production this summer. Embankment Films is selling the title which was previously with Highland Film Group when the project was announced in Berlin. Daniel Dubiecki and Lara Alameddine of LA’s The Allegiance Theater are producing. Farmiga stars as a mother who will stop at nothing to see her daughter’s dream of playing Sleeping Beauty realized. Sarsgaard is her devilish instructor. A search is on for a 13-year-old newcomer to play the ballerina. Black Swan’s Benjamin Millepied and Kurt Froman will handle the choreography. Musical theater director Evan Greenberg is helming. CAA is repping U.S. rights.
Also from Embankment, Liam Hemsworth, Isla Fisher and Elizabeth Debicki are joining Kate Winslet and Judy Davis in The Dressmaker. Jocelyn Moorhouse is directing her own adaptation of Rosalie Ham’s eponymous novel. Winslet plays an avenging angel who returns home to the remote country town from which she fled as a child after being accused of murder, to make amends with her eccentric mother. Although ostracized at first, she liberates and empowers the town’s women with her quick wit and beautiful clothing, also finding love and ultimately exacts sweet revenge on those who wronged her. Principal photography starts in Australia on October 13. Sue Maslin is producing through Film Art Media. Embankment has international sales and is co-repping the U.S. with CAA.