The new Focus Features is not flagging in its commitment to serious-minded, awards-friendly arthouse fare. CEO Peter Schlessel has just set a November 27, 2015 release for date Working Title’s “The Danish Girl” starring Eddie Redmayne as 20th century trans pioneer Lili Elbe. Universal Pictures International will handle the overseas release.
Directed by Tom Hooper, who won an Oscar for “The King’s Speech” and first worked with Eddie Redmayne on Universal and Working Title’s Academy Award-winning “Les Miserables,” the film follows the love story of Einar and Gerda Wegener (played by Alicia Vikander, who stars in the very-long-awaited SXSW buzz title “Ex Machina”) whose marriage is upended by Einar’s journey to become Lili Elbe, one of the world’s first known transgender women.
With the Hooper namesake and Redmayne’s recent Best Actor win for “The Theory of Everything”—also a November release from Focus and Working Title—the collaborators obviously have Oscar hopes set. Working Title’s Oscar history impresses as much as any single producer that is not Harvey Weinstein or Scott Rudin, from Focus’ “Atonement” to “Les Miserables,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” to “Anna Karenina” and “Pride and Prejudice” and more. Working Title’s films have won 11 Oscars, 38 BAFTAs and kudos from Cannes and Toronto, where awards season babies are born.
Working Title has other lustrous releases slated elsewhere at Universal, including the Coens’ “Hail Caesar!,” Jake Gyllenhaal starrer “Everest” and “Legend” with Tom Hardy. Together, Focus and Working Title will finally be getting Stephen Daldry’s “Trash” out of the gate later this year.
“The Danish Girl” is based on the 2001 novel by David Ebershoff with a script by Lucinda Coxon. Anne Harrison and Gail Mutrux developed the project and are producing via their Harrison Productions and Pretty Pictures. Working Title partners Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan will produce with Hooper. Linda Reisman executive produces with Ulf Israel of Senator Global Productions.