Hammer Films Scares Up Movie Rights to British Witch Trials Story

Exclusive Media's U.K. production banner options Jeanette Winterson's best-selling novella "The Daylight Gate" from Random House imprint Arrow Books Hammer.

LONDON – U.K.-based genre arm Hammer Films, a division of Exclusive Media, has inked a deal for the movie rights to Jeanette Winterson’s novella The Daylight Gate.

Published under the Arrow Books Hammer imprint from Random House in August, 2012, the novella is set in the early 17th century and is based on the Pendle Witch Trial, the most notorious of English witch trials.

It is billed as a tale of magic, superstition, conscience and ruthless murder.

Simon Oakes, vice chairman of Exclusive Media and president & CEO of Hammer, announced the deal, which highlights Hammer’s ongoing goal to develop original content for both film and television productions and find projects created by its literary and theatrical deals.

Oakes said: "The Hammer imprint has really delivered some fantastic new writing and shows the vibrancy and variety of the modern day horror genre. The books under our Arrow Books deal are in themselves a fantastic extension of the Hammer brand, and Jeanette's novella The Daylight Gate is a fresh, exciting and compelling fictional work."

Winterson said: "I was interested to take the Hammer novella commission to write a good story around the notorious Pendle Witch Trials of 1612. Now I am intrigued and excited to see what new form these ghosts can inhabit. Stories from the past are always present; it is our imaginations that make it so."

Winterson is the author of 10 novels, including Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, The Passion and Sexing the Cherry.

Originally founded in 1934, British film studio Hammer, which had not been in production since the 1980s, marked its return to movie-making in 2010 with Let Me In, an adaptation of the highly praised Swedish film Lat den ratte komma in, written and directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) and starring Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road).

February of 2012 saw the theatrical rollout of Hammer’s first ever feature ghost story, The Woman In Black, directed by James Watkins and starring Daniel Radcliffe.

The film has taken over $130 million worldwide.

In addition to The Daylight Gate, other recent books published under the Arrow Books Hammer imprint from Random House include Sophie Hannah’s The Orphan Choir and Julie Myerson’s The Quickening.