Sony Pictures Classics has acquired worldwide rights to Kenneth Branagh’s All Is True, a drama about a little-known period in the final years of William Shakespeare. Branagh directs and stars as the playwright in the pic, which co-stars Judi Dench and Ian McKellan. The film will get a one-week awards-qualifying theatrical run in New York and Los Angeles on December 21, followed by a larger release in 2019.

All Is True
Sony Pictures Classics

Penned by Ben Elton in his first original drama, All Is True is set in 1613 when Shakespeare is acknowledged as the greatest writer of the age. But disaster strikes when his renowned Globe Theatre burns to the ground. Devastated, Shakespeare returns to Stratford, where he must face a troubled past and a neglected family. Haunted by the death of his only son Hamnet, he struggles to mend the broken relationships with his wife (Dench) and daughters. In so doing, he is forced to examine his own failings as husband and father. McKellen plays the Earl of Southampton.

Tamar Thomas and Ted Gagliano are producers. Executive producers are Judy Hofflund, Matt Jenkins, Becca Kovacik and Laura Berwick.

Branagh’s career has been marked with performing Shakespeare’s works on both the stage and the screen; he was nominated for Best Director and Best Actor Oscars in 1990 for Henry V, and Oscar-nommed again in 1997 for adapting Hamlet. He’s also adapted, directed and and starred in Much Ado About Nothing, Love’s Labour’s Lost and As You Like It.

“We have known and worked with Ken for 25 years. We feel this is a movie he was destined to make,” SPC said in a statement. “He conjures up for us the depth and dramatic richness of a character about whom we have always been fascinated.”