EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Classics has acquired North America and key markets on Ralph Fiennes’ Rudolf Nureyev pic The White Crow from HanWay Films.

The prestige label has also taken Latin America, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Asia (excluding China, Japan, and Singapore) and Benelux.

Inspired by the book Rudolf Nureyev: The Life by Julie Kavanaugh, the drama charts the iconic dancer’s famed defection from the Soviet Union to the West in 1961, despite KGB efforts to stop him. Fiennes directs from a script by David Hare (The Hours). The anticipated drama is still in the running for an autumn festival berth.

Acclaimed dancer Oleg Ivenko stars as Nureyev, alongside Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is the Warmest Color) as Clara Saint, and Fiennes as Russian ballet coach Alexander Pushkin. Also featured are ballet-world enfant terrible Sergei Polunin, Chulpan Khamatova, Olivier Rabourdin, Raphaël Personnaz and Louis Hofmann.

The deal was negotiated between SPC and Gabrielle Stewart for HanWay. SPC’s Michael Barker and Tom Bernard previously picked up Fiennes’ movies including Spider, The White Countess and The Invisible Woman.

Said Sony Pictures Classics: “Ralph Fiennes has fully captured the times and early life of Rudolph Nureyev in the most thrilling way possible with the pulsing energy of the man himself. Also, The White Crow is especially timely. From Nureyev’s rich life experience in Russia and Paris to his suspenseful defection to the West, we are immersed in an authentic story we’ve never seen before. This is one of those rare movies that crosses so many borders culturally as a satisfying entertainment. We look forward to bringing Ralph’s movie to the public.”

Said Fiennes: “I’m really delighted to be reuniting with Michael Barker and Tom Bernard and the team at Sony Pictures Classics. It’s been a huge challenge to make this film and there’s no question that with their vast experience with such a wide range of films, SPC is the right home for The White Crow. It’s great news.”

Sales outfit HanWay co-financed the film with BBC Films and Rogue Black. Pic was developed by BBC Films and Gabrielle Tana (Philomena) who also produces with Carolyn Marks Blackwood through Magnolia Mae Films together with Fiennes through Lonely Dragon Productions, and François Ivernel (The Queen) through the French branch of his company Montebello Productions. Artist and filmmaker Andrew Levitas (Lullaby) produces and finances through his companies Metalwork Pictures and Rogue Black, respectively.