Lionsgate Takes UK On ‘Ikiru’ Remake ‘Living’ Starring Bill Nighy

Bill Nighy
Chris Chapman

Lionsgate has taken UK distribution rights on Living, the Bill Nighy-starring English-language adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s classic Ikiru.

Nobel and Booker Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro has written the screenplay. Moffie filmmaker Oliver Hermanus is helming. Producers are Stephen Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen at Number 9 Films. Production is being lined up for the spring.

Set in London 1952, Living focuses on Williams (Nighy) a veteran civil servant, who has become a cog in the bureaucracy of rebuilding post WWII England. As paperwork piles up on his desk, Williams learns he has seven months to live. Thus begins his quest to find meaning in his life before it slips away.

The deal marks the first since Lionsgate’s UK office underwent a major reshuffle following the departure of top execs Zygi Kamasa and Nicola Pearcey, with the latter set to leave by the end of the year. As we revealed, the company is cutting 15-20 staff in total from its London office and centralizing operations back in Los Angeles.

Films in the UK will continue to be source and serviced locally by a team including Emma Berkofsky, senior acquisition and production executive, and Marie-Claire Benson, who oversees marketing and distribution, the company said today.

“Lionsgate is continuing its longstanding commitment to acquiring the best of British cinema and bringing the highest caliber entertainment to UK audiences,” said Jason Constantine, Lionsgate’s president of acquisitions and co-productions. “We are thrilled for Lionsgate UK to be continuing our relationship with Stephen Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen on another outstanding film. We have a very strong and talented team in place and I’m excited to be working with Emma and Marie-Claire to amplify and support British filmmaking voices throughout the region. Living is a perfect example of a story that we are confident will resonate with UK audiences and we’re thrilled and proud to be this film’s home distributor.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering once more with Lionsgate on the UK release of Living. They are a staunch supporter of independent UK film and it’s a privilege to be collaborating again, sustaining our long shared history,” said Woolley and Karlsen. “We feel confident that Living will be in good hands, and we look forward to delivering an inspiring, emotional and rousing cinematic experience. The combination of talent both in front of and behind the camera, inspired by Kurosawa’s original screenplay and Ishiguro’s reinterpretation, is both an exhilarating challenge and an exciting prospect, that Oliver Hermanus and Number 9 relish.”

The deal for the UK distribution rights were negotiated by Woolley and by Berkofsky for Lionsgate. Rocket Science is handling sales.

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