Cannes: Beyonce's 'Lemonade' Producers Developing Margaret Thatcher Assassination Thriller (Exclusive)

Margaret Thatcher Headshot - P 2013
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Margaret Thatcher Headshot - P 2013

Pulse Films and Addictive Pictures have acquired the film rights to Jonathan Lee's 'High Dive,' based around the 1984 IRA Brighton hotel bombing.

The failed attempt by the IRA in 1984 to assassinate Margaret Thatcher, described as the most audacious attack on the British government since the 1605 Gunpowder Plot to blow up the British Parliament, is to be dramatized.

Pulse Films — the growing cross-content studio whose recent body of work includes indie box-office hit The Witch, Cannes competition entry American Honey and Beyonce’s 60-minute Lemonade video — has teamed with Addictive Pictures to acquire the film rights to Jonathan Lee’s historical novel High Dive.

The two banners will partner on the project, to be directed by Brian Kirk (Game of Thrones, Luther), with Thomas Benski and Lucas Ochoa producing for Pulse and John Schoenfelder and Russell Ackerman producing for Addictive. The deal was negotiated by Kate Prentice at 42 Management.

The critically acclaimed High Dive — published earlier this year by Knopf — weaves fact and fiction to follow a young IRA volunteer as he plants a bomb in his hotel room in the British seaside town of Brighton, where Thatcher and her Conservative government were staying in late 1984 for their annual conference. Thatcher would narrowly escape injury from the real-life attack, although five others were killed, including two members of her party.

“Cinematic in scope, and utterly compelling from first to last; we are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring Jonathan Lee’s novel to the big screen under the direction of the immensely talented Brian Kirk,” said Ochoa, Pulse’s head of film and scripted TV. “Both film and director showcase the vast ambition and daring vision that Pulse Films is committed to delivering with every project.”

Benski, who set up Pulse in London 10 years ago before moving to L.A., added that the novel was a “great example” of how the company gravitated toward a certain type of IP.

“We’re very interested in great literature, and High Dive is a brilliant work of literature,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s thrilling, it’s cinematic. It feels very much up our street. It’s a very interesting story and with that there’s what we think is the ability to attract talent… big talent that will make the movie easier to make. So for us it fits exactly on what we’re looking for.”

For 10-year-old Pulse, High Dive helps underline a growing push into scripted features after a decade cementing its name in music videos and feature and TV documentaries, which include Sundance hits Shut Up and Play the Hits and 20,000 Days on Earth. Earlier this month it announced it would be producing Post, billed as a “fresh take on the postapocalyptic genre,” to be shot in the U.K. later this year with Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace directing.

Brian Kirk is repped by CAA, the Independent Talent Group and Gang Tyre.