TWC picks up 'The King's Speech'

Colin Firth to star as King George VI

King George VI is the latest British royal to get the big screen treatment: Colin Firth has signed on to play the monarch in "The King's Speech," and the Weinstein Co. has snapped up rights for North America and a host of other territories.

Tom Hooper, whose resume includes HBO's "Elizabeth I" and "John Adams" will direct the feature, which shoots later this year aiming for a 2010 release, from a script by David Seidler.

Firth will play George VI, known as Bertie, the father of the current Queen Elizabeth II, who assumed the throne when his brother Edward VIII abdicated in 1936 to marry Wallis Simpson. The film will focus on his efforts to overcome a nervous stammer with the help of speech therapist Lionel Logue, to be played by Geoffrey Rush. The two actors previously starred together in "Shakespeare in Love."

"Speech" is being produced by Iain Canning and Emile Sherman of See-Saw Films, and Gareth Unwin of Bedlam Productions. Bedlam's Simon Egan will serve as co-producer.

In addition to North America, the Weinstein Co. has acquired rights for Germany, France, Benelux, Scandinavia, China, Hong Kong and Latin America.

David Glasser, TWC president of international distribution, and TWC president of theatrical films Tom Ortenberg announced the acquisition, their second since Ortenberg joined the Weinstein Co. in January.

Glasser, Michal Steinberg, senior vp, business and legal affairs and acquisitions, and Rhodri Thomas, vp of production and development, negotiated on behalf of TWC. Sherman and Canning negotiated on behalf of See-Saw Films International, together with Libby Savill, head of the film team at London-based law firm Olswang.