16 may 2023 Benedict Cumberbatch to star in THE THING WITH FEATHERS from Film4, Lobo Films and SunnyMarch. mk2 films and UTA launch sales
Benedict Cumberbatch is set to star in the adaptation of Max Porter’s acclaimed novel Grief is the Thing With Feathers, directed by Dylan Southern and produced by Andrea Cornwell, Adam Ackland and Leah Clarke. The script was developed with Film4, who will executive produce and co-finance. Mk2 films launches international sales in Cannes. UTA co-rep the film in North America.
Following the death of his wife, a young father’s hold on reality crumbles as a strange presence begins to stalk him from the shadowy recesses of the apartment he shares with his two young sons. A mysterious creature, seemingly brought to life from the pages of the father’s work as an illustrator, ‘Crow’ is about to become a very real part of all their lives, ultimately guiding them towards the new shape their family must take.
“Having been a huge fan of Max Porter’s extraordinary book and Enda Walsh’s stage adaptation I was sceptical about a film adaptation. But the experience of reading Dylan Southern’s adaptation rekindled the cinematic memory of reading this most visceral tale of a family consumed by grief. Dylan has handled the deftness of Max’s kinetic poetry masterfully. It’s so well realised both on the page and in the deck and pitch. It holds all the wildly sharp turns of changing tones and colours between the domestic and mythic, between the despair, comedy, and every day of loss. It’s a thrilling read, and I couldn’t be more excited to be taking Dylan’s cinematic vision of it to the big screen”, says Benedict Cumberbatch.
“We were deeply moved by Dylan Southern’s adaptation, it’s a poignant portrayal of the bond between a father and his sons. With a blend of dark humour, melancholy, and a touch of horror, it delivers a message of hope that lingers long after the story ends”, says Fionnuala Jamison, mk2 films’ Managing Director.
“I love Dylan Southern’s adaptation of Grief is the Thing With Feathers. Dylan understands how this story is just as much about domesticity, awkward humour, the silly, fun and strange routines of raising children, as it is about inexplicable rage and pain. In Crow he has created something wild, a cinematic monster unlike anything else”, says Max Porter.
“This is a genuinely meaningful story – but it’s also scary, thrilling, and subversive – and it achieves all of the above whilst remaining unsentimental. As a director, adapting this book provides the opportunity to combine striking genre elements with drama in a way that will not only move an audience, but will frighten them and make them laugh too”, adds Dylan Southern.
The crow figure will be created for the screen in collaboration with the sculptor Nicola Hicks, MBE.
Max Porter’s bestselling first novel was named a Sunday Times ‘Top 100 Novel of the Twenty-first Century’ and has been sold in 29 territories. It was also adapted into a critically acclaimed stage play, which opened in Dublin in March 2018, then toured to New York, Galway, and London.
Dylan Southern is an award-winning writer and director, who has earned recognition in the world of feature documentaries. His current music documentary, MEET ME IN THE BATHROOM debuted at Sundance 2022. Previous films include: NO DISTANCE LEFT TO RUN which was nominated for both a Grammy and Grierson award. SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS which was described as “The Last Waltz for the generation who were at high school on 9/11”, was shot by collaborators including Spike Jonze and Reed Morano, and also premiered at Sundance.
Andrea Cornwell is an award-winning film & television producer. She is currently in post-production on LOVE LIES BLEEDING for A24 & Film4, directed by Rose Glass and starring Kristen Stewart, Ed Harris, Katy O’Brian, Jena Malone and Dave Franco. Recent productions include the limited series THE ESSEX SERPENT for AppleTV+, directed by Clio Barnard, starring Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston, and films include the horror hit SAINT MAUD directed by Rose Glass; APOSTASY directed by Daniel Kokotajlo; SUITE FRANÇAISE (starring Michelle Williams, Kristin Scott Thomas, Margot Robbie) and the sci-fi horror LAST DAYS ON MARS which premiered at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight.
SunnyMarch was founded in 2013 by Managing Director Adam Ackland and Benedict Cumberbatch. Since launching the banner, Adam and producing partner Leah Clarke have produced the Golden Globe winning, BAFTA nominated Kevin Macdonald film THE MAURITANIAN, starring Jodie Foster, Tahar Rahim, Benedict Cumberbatch and Shailene Woodley, Will Sharpe’s period piece THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN, starring Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, Toby Jones and Andrea Riseborough, and THE COURIER, a cold-war espionage drama directed by Dominic Cooke, starring Cumberbatch, Rachel Brosnahan, Merab Ninidze and Jessie Buckley. SunnyMarch is now in post-production on Mahalia Belo’s debut feature THE END WE START FROM, a poetic story of family survival based on Megan Hunter’s novella starring Jodie Comer. Currently, SunnyMarch is shooting WE LIVE IN TIME, a contemporary romance directed by BAFTA winner John Crowley from a script by Nick Payne, starring Andrew Garfield and Florence Pugh.
Film4 is Channel 4 Television’s feature film division. Film4 develops and co-finances films and is known for working with the most distinctive and innovative talent in UK and international filmmaking, both new and established.
Film4 has developed and co-financed many of the most successful UK films of recent years, Academy Award®-winners such as Florian Zeller’s The Father, Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, Asif Kapadia’s box office record breaking documentary Amy, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave and Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, in addition to critically-acclaimed award-winners such as Sarah Gavron’s Rocks, Rose Glass’s Saint Maud, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War, Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not a Witch, Chris Morris’s Four Lions, Shane Meadows’ This is England, Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin and Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years.
Film4’s recent releases include Martin McDonagh’s BAFTA winning The Banshees of Inisherin, Oliver Hermanus’ Living, Florian Zeller’s The Son, Mark Jenkin’s Enys Men, Julia Ducournau’s Titane, Jonathan Butterell’s Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Rebecca Hall’s Passing, Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho, Will Sharpe’s The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, Aml Ameen’s Boxing Day, Eva Husson’s Mothering Sunday, Michael Pearce’s Encounter, Prano Bailey-Bond’s Censor, documentary The Real Charlie Chaplin from Peter Middleton and James Spinney, and Jim Archer’s Brian & Charles. Forthcoming titles include Yorgos Lanthimos’s Poor Things, Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest, Steve McQueen’s Occupied City and Rose Glass’ Love Lies Bleeding.
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