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Shooting of the feature kicks off on Monday, with BAFTA-winning TV director Marc Munden (Utopia, National Treasure) helming from a script by prolific writer Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), based on the classic 1911 children’s book by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Firth previously starred in a 1987 TV adaptation for Hallmark.
The story has been tweaked from the original, with the latest The Secret Garden reset in a slightly later period, removing it from the Edwardian era to 1947, on the eve of Partition in India, and in the aftermath of WW2 in Britain. When Mary Lennox (Dixie Egerickx), a prickly and unloved 10-year-old girl, born in India to wealthy parents, is sent to England to live with her uncle Archibald Craven (Firth) on his remote country estate, she begins to uncover several family secrets, particularly when she meets her sickly cousin Colin (Edan Hayhurst). These two damaged, slightly misfit, children begin to heal each other, partly through their exposure to a wondrous secret garden, lost in the grounds of the manor. Walters plays the head housekeeper, while Amir Wilson (The Kid Who Would be King) and Isis Davis (Electric Dreams) also star.
The multi-award winning Heyman (Harry Potter, Gravity, Fantastic Beasts, Paddington 1 and 2) and Rosie Alison (Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Testament of Youth, Paddington 1 and 2) will produce, with Jane Robertson (The Danish Girl, Bridget Jones’s Baby, Breathe) co-produces. Didier Lupfer, Danny Perkins and Dan MacRae executive produce for StudioCanal.
“I’m delighted to be working again with StudioCanal on The Secret Garden, brought so vividly to life by writer Jack Thorne,” said Heyman. “I’m excited that our director, Marc Munden, will be bringing his distinct imaginative vision to this enduring childhood story. And I could not be more thrilled that Colin Firth and Julie Walters have joined the journey, alongside a remarkable new trio of young actors.”
StudioCanal developed the film, is fully financing and will distribute in the U.K., France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. It will start worldwide sales at next month’s Marche du Film in Cannes.
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Sir Anthony Hopkins