EXCLUSIVE: Bohemian Rhapsody screenwriter Anthony McCarten will write the script and produce a narrative film based on Three Identical Strangers. The film, being mounted by Raw, Film4 and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, is based on the smash hit documentary film from last year.
McCarten has the unusual distinction of seeing his last three films resulting in Best Actor Oscar wins for the films’ stars. Before Bohemian Rhapsody and Rami Malek, that was Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour and Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything. McCarten was Oscar nominated for all three films. The New Zealand-born writer’s next film is The Pope, starring Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis opposite Anthony Hopkins who plays Pope Benedict.
McCarten stays in non-fiction mode with Three Identical Strangers. Set in New York and Long Island, the docu told the fascinating true story of Robert Shafran, David Kellman and Eddy Galland, three complete strangers who inadvertently discover that they are identical triplets separated at birth. When the 19-year-olds’ joyous reunion catapults them to international fame, it also sets a chain of extraordinary and disturbing events in motion.
Raw, Film4 and SKE last year won a feverish auction for the life rights of Shafran and Kellman, two of the identical triplets at the heart of the documentary. The Raw-backed documentary premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and was awarded the Special Jury Prize for Documentary Storytelling. Directed by Tim Wardle and financed and executive produced by CNN Films and Channel 4 (UK), Three Identical Strangers was the highest-grossing limited release documentary, per screen, of the year on its opening weekend. It eventually grossed over $12 million in the U.S. It won won the DGA Award for Documentary, won prizes from Critics Choice and National Board of Review, and was nominated for a BAFTA. How it and Won’t You Be My Neighbor didn’t make the finals for the Best Documentary Oscar is about as compelling a mystery as what was contained within the film.
Raw’s Katherine Butler and Dimitri Doganis and SKE’s Sidney Kimmel and John Penotti and McCarten will produce the film. Film4’s Daniel Battsek and Ollie Madden, Submarine’s Josh Braun and Dan Braun, and doc director Tim Wardle will be exec producers. Ross Katz and Mark O’Connor are overseeing development on behalf of SKE. Ollie Madden oversees for Film4.