EXCLUSIVE: Here’s a strong one for the virtual EFM market. Oscar and BAFTA winner Laura Dern (Big Little Lies), A Quiet Place star Noah Jupe and Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) have been set to star in new Justin Kurzel (Nitram) project Morning, which HanWay is launching.
The film is set in a near future where society has a pill that does away with the need to sleep. With the added help of an artificial sun, there is no end to morning daylight, living and work. However, as a young generation grows up deprived of the world of sleep, they consider rebelling to reclaim their dreams.
HanWay is handling international sales. CAA Media Finance and UTA Independent Film Group are co-repping the U.S. sale.
Morning was written by Manchester-born writer Sam Steiner. The screenplay was picked up by Cumberbatch and Adam Ackland’s SunnyMarch. SunnyMarch’s Head of Film, Leah Clarke, is producing alongside Ackland.
Cumberbatch, who is coming off strong notices for Jane Campion drama The Power Of The Dog and huge box office hit Spider-Man: No Way Home, will executive-produce alongside Dern and Jayme Lemons, through their company Jaywalker Pictures, and Marnie Podos.
The film will reunite Macbeth, The Snowtown Murders and Assassin’s Creed director Kurzel with several of his previous collaborators including cinematographer Adam Arkapaw and BAFTA-nominated designer Alice Babidge. A start date and shoot location has yet to be finalized.
Kurzel’s most recent feature Nitram played in Competition at Cannes and saw lead actor Caleb Landry Jones pick up the festival’s Best Actor prize.
In Morning, the ambitious and driven Cathy (Dern) was an early advocate of a sleepless world, but as she and her son Danny (Jupe) pick up the pieces of their lives following the death of her husband Frank (Cumberbatch), she finds the universe she helped to build is starting to crumble around her, whilst memories she fought so hard to repress are bleeding into her waking life. As Danny is further drawn into a subversive underworld of dreamers, Cathy must confront her nightmares and fight hard not to lose her son.
Adam Ackland said: “Morning is a joyful, reflective, and defiant story about a reality not so far from our own where a preoccupation with productivity has destroyed our ability to connect, grieve and love. We cannot wait to see this incredibly talented cast and creative team headed by Justin, Laura and Noah bring Sam’s brilliantly original script to life.”
HanWay Films MD Gabrielle Stewart commented: “Morning asks so many questions of us as people with ambitions, hopes, emotions and dreams, and it is fascinating to debate what sleep means to our very existence and our souls. What would we be like if we had never dreamt? It also contains the spirit of youth rebelling against the choices of their parents. Morning provokes, moves, entices… and it has an amazing team behind it.”
In addition to Morning, Steiner’s current projects include horror film Banquet to be directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia.
Dern and Kurzel are represented by CAA and Jupe is represented by CAA, Grandview and The Artist Partnership. Cumberbatch and SunnyMarch are represented by UTA. Steiner is represented by Under New Mgmt and CAA. Kurzel is also repped by HLA.
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