Principal photography is getting underway Monday on Studiocanal and Heyday Films’ The Secret Garden with Colin Firth and Julie Walters starring. As Deadline revealed in January, Marc Munden is directing the new take on the classic children’s novel.
Jack Thorne adapted the book for the big screen and has moved the story to a slightly later period, removing it from the Edwardian era to 1947, on the eve of Partition in India, and in the aftermath of WW2 in Britain.
Set in England and based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 book, The Secret Garden tells the story of Mary Lennox (Dixie Egerickx — Genius), a prickly and unloved 10-year-old girl, born in India to wealthy British parents who never wanted her. When her parents suddenly die, she is sent back to England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven (Firth), on his remote country estate deep in the Yorkshire moors. There, she begins to uncover many family secrets, particularly when she meets her sickly cousin Colin (Edan Hayhurst — Genius), shut away in a wing of the house. Together, the two damaged, slightly misfit children heal each other — partly through their exposure to a wondrous secret garden, lost in the grounds of Misselthwaite Manor.
Walters will play Mrs Medlock, the head housekeeper at Misselthwaite. Amir Wilson has also joined as Dickon with Isis Davis as Martha.
David Heyman and Rosie Alison are producing. Jane Robertson (The Danish Girl, Bridget Jones’s Baby) will co-produce. Studiocanal’s Didier Lupfer, Danny Perkins and Dan MacRae are exec producers.
Munden says, “This is a fantastical reimagining of The Secret Garden. I can’t wait to explore it. It’s an opportunity to immerse ourselves in an uncanny and wondrous world, which will play to the imaginations of adults and children alike.”
After their collaborations on the Paddington movies, Heyman adds, “I’m delighted to be working again with Studiocanal on The Secret Garden, brought so vividly to life by writer Jack Thorne. I’m excited that our director, Marc Munden, will be bringing his distinct imaginative vision to this enduring childhood story. And I could not be more thrilled that Colin Firth and Julie Walters have joined the journey, alongside a remarkable new trio of young actors.”
Studiocanal developed the film, is fully financing and will distribute in the UK, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. It will start sales in Cannes.