EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate has moved quickly to snap up UK rights to Lone Scherfig’s Their Finest Hour And A Half. Gemma Arterton (Quantum Of Solace), Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay) and Bill Nighy (The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) star in a screwball comedy battle of the sexes that follows the misadventures of a British movie crew trying to make a patriotic film to boost morale during the Blitz.
BBC Films developed and co-finances the film, which is being produced by Oscar-nominated producers Number 9 Films and Wildgaze Films, led by Stephen Woolley (Made In Dagenham) and Amanda Posey (Brooklyn). Gaby Chiappe has adapted Lissa Evans’ 2009 novel set in early 1940s World War II London.
Woolley is poised to have a stand-out Cannes, with two films in competition: Todd Haynes’ Carol, starring Cate Blanchett, and Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth.
BBC Films’ Christine Langan and Ed Wethered will executive produce along with Lionsgate UK’s Zygi Kamasa. Hanway is handling worldwide sales and the deal further consolidates the company’s hot streak under managing director Thorsten Schumacher. Hanway closed a headline-making $9 million sale of Brooklyn — produced by Posey and Finola Dwyer — at Sundance earlier in the year.
The deal also reps the first since Lionsgate UK chief exec Zygi Kamasa announced the company would be financing and co-investing in at least 25 British films over the next four years. The re-affirmation of Lionsgate’s commitment to British film comes after the company had invested in and released more than 20 British features with a combined production budget of over $225 million. Lionsgate UK also recently bought both Brooklyn and Limehouse Golem from Hanway. The latter stars Alan Rickman and Douglas Booth and is produced by Woolley, with Jane Goldman writing and Juan Carlos Medina directing.
Said Kamasa of today’s deal, “A project such as this with a visionary director, established producing team and impressive British cast cements the fact that British cinema is thriving and we’re thrilled to be able to push that message home by adding this title to our 2016 slate.