EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-winner Mark Rylance is set to make his big-screen comedy debut in The Fantastic Flitcrofts, a golf movie written by Paddington 2 scribe Simon Farnaby.
Bridge Of Spies and Dunkirk actor Rylance will play Maurice Flitcroft, a dreamer and unrelenting optimist, who managed to gain entry to The British Open Golf Championship qualifying in 1976 and subsequently shot the worst round in Open history, becoming a folk hero in the process.
Craig Roberts, whose acting credits include Submarine and Red Oaks, is attached to direct, his third feature after Eternal Beauty and Just Jim. Farnaby has adapted the screenplay from the book The Phantom Of The Open, which he co-wrote with UK journo Scott Murray.
Cornerstone Films has boarded world sales rights and will present the project to buyers at next week’s Cannes virtual Marche.
The film is produced by Nichola Martin through Baby Cow Films (Powder Room), BAFTA Award winner Tom Miller from Water & Power Productions (Code 404) together with Kate Glover (Black Mirror). Oscar nominee and former BBC Films chief Christine Langan (Philomena) and James Swarbrick (A Streetcat Named Bob) are executive producers.
Cornerstone Films will finance together with Len Blavatnik’s film investment outfit AI Film and BBC Films, which developed the pic with the BFI.
Rylance told Deadline he was looking forward to doing a comedy film after enjoying acting in theatrical productions in the genre, “I am particularly thrilled to be offered a comedy. I have had some of my best times in the theatre in comedies, Boeing Boeing, and Twelfth Night in the West End and on Broadway. This is the first comic film I have ever been offered. A comedy of character and situation which I love.”
Cornerstone Films’ Mark Gooder and Alison Thompson added, “Audiences love real-life underdog stories and we couldn’t be more excited to bring to the market Simon’s wonderful script with the superb Mark Rylance as Maurice Flitcroft. A heart-warming comedy is exactly what we think buyers will be looking for.”
Baby Cow Films’ Nichola Martin said, “We are so excited to be bringing this very special project to life. Simon, Craig and Mark are an exquisite trio, and Maurice’s story – celebrating the power of the imagination and the bonds of family – is the perfect tale of hope for our times.”
Tom Miller from Water & Power Productions added, “With Simon’s incredible script and Craig’s unique vision, not to mention the brilliance of Mark Rylance, we can’t wait to get the wonderful true-life story of Maurice up and swinging on the big screen.”
Rylance is represented by Joel Lubin at CAA And Jodi Peikoff at Peikoff Mahan. Roberts is represented by Kate Staddon at Curtis Brown and Farnaby by Humphrey Elles-Hill at Independent Talent.