EXCLUSIVE: Teddy Schwarzman’s Black Bear Pictures has set Eddie Redmayne to star in The Last Days Of Night, joining director Morten Tyldum and screenwriter Graham Moore to tell the story about the battle between industrial age titans Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse to electrify America. Redmayne will play famed lawyer Paul Cravath, in his first major career-making case. Schwarzman’s Black Bear teamed with Tyldum and Moore in The Imitation Game, and just before Cannes, Black Bear won an auction for this property, a package that included Moore’s scripted adaptation of his book on the subject that Random House will publish with great fanfare August 16. And Tyldum attached to direct as his followup to Passengers with Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. The Last Days Of Night will start production in the UK late January in anticipation of a fall 2017 release.
Getting Redmayne certainly adds to the prestige pedigree and distributors will be all over this one when Black Bear sets out to find one. Redmayne won the Best Actor Oscar for playing Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, and was nominated this past year for The Danish Girl. He got a strong reaction from the Comic-Con Hall H crowd Saturday during the Warner Bros panel to introduce Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, the first installment of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter spinoff, with Redmayne playing the lead role of Nate Scamander. Warner Bros releases the David Yates-directed film November 16.
Like The Imitation Game —which earned Moore an Oscar and got seven other nominations including Best Director and Best Picture — The Last Days Of Night is built around the complexities and eccentricities of seminal technological geniuses. The publisher describes it as being “about the nature of genius, the cost of ambition, and the battle to electrify America. New York, 1888. The miracle of electric light is in its infancy. Thomas Edison has won the race to the patent office and is suing his only remaining rival, George Westinghouse, for the unheard of sum of one billion dollars. To defend himself, Westinghouse makes a surprising choice in his attorney: He hires an untested twenty-six-year-old fresh out of Columbia Law School, Cravath. The task facing Cravath is beyond daunting. Edison proves to be a formidable, wily, and dangerous opponent. Yet this young, unknown attorney shares with his famous opponent a compulsion to win at all costs. How will he do it? As he takes greater and greater risks, he’ll find that everyone in his path is playing their own game, and no one is quite who they seem.” Woven into the tale are Nikola Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell, Stanford White and other technological titans of the late 19th century.
The film is produced by Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Schwarzman, with Black Bear Pictures fully financing. The production company has the Matthew McConaughey-starrer Gold coming next, and then Suburbicon, the George Clooney-directed film that stars Matt Damon.
The intriguing thing here is that it sets up a race with two key components of The Imitation Game who are not part of this. Benedict Cumberbatch is attached to The Weinstein Company’s rival project The Current War, with Cumberbatch to play Edison and possibly Jake Gyllenhaal as Westinghouse in the race to electrify America. Me And Earl And The Dying Girl’s Alfonso Gomez-Rejon is attached to direct.
Redmayne is repped by CAA, United Agents, Gene Parseghian of Parseghian Planco and Untitled Entertainment.