Fox Searchlight Pictures on Thursday announced that it has acquired the North American distribution rights to Armando Iannucci’s “The Personal History of David Copperfield” — a display of early enthusiasm and faith in the satirist’s latest film two weeks before its word premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Fox Searchlight is planning a 2020 theatrical release for the Scottish director’s film based on the Charles Dickens novel, which stars Dev Patel in its titular role
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“Armando Iannucci is a wonderfully original filmmaker and expert storyteller; he brings his irreverent and imaginative take to this iconic and beloved story,” said Fox Searchlight chairmen Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula said in a statement. “As for Dev, he has consistently impressed since his unforgettable breakout roles in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.’
The satirist’s last two films, “The Death of Stalin” and “In the Loop” were distributed stateside by IFC Films and opened outside awarda season, though “In the Loop” — spinoff of the writer-director’s BBC show “The Thick of It” — got both Oscar and BAFTA nods for best adapted screenplay.
UTA Independent Film Group brokered the “David Copperfield” deal on behalf of FilmNation Entertainment and the filmmaking team.
International rights are still up for grabs. FilmNation is handling those sales.
Iannucci spoke to IndieWire last year about pushing for colorblind casting on “David Copperfield.”
“I want to make a film that doesn’t feel hidebound by the conventions of a costume drama or a period drama. I want to start again,” he said. “I want it to feel real and present, even though it’s set in 1840 in London. I want it to feel immediate and current. And therefore I want the cast to be much more representative of what London looks like now, and I want a lot of the behavior in the film to feel current and contemporary.”
The cast includes several of Iannucci’s past collaborators: Hugh Laurie, who joined the cast of “Veep” as Senator Tom James during Iannucci’s last season as showrunner; Peter Capaldi, who played foul-mouthed spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker in “The Thick of It” and “In the Loop;” and Paul Whitehouse, soviet statesman Anastas Mikoyan in “The Death of Stalin.”
Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw, Aneurin Barnard, Daisy May Cooper, Morfydd Clark, Benedict Wong, Gwendoline Christie, Anthony Welsh, and Rosalind Eleazar round out the ensemble.
After its premiere in Toronto, “David Copperfield,” will open the BFI London Film Festival in October.