Focus takes over Tomas Alfredson's Cold War tale from Universal

Universal Pictures’ specialty division Focus Features will handle U.S. distribution for Tomas Alfredson’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and release the Cold War tale wide on Nov. 18, in the heart of awards season.

“The Dark Knight Rises” duo of Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy star alongside recent Oscar winner Colin Firth, as well as Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Stephen Graham and “War Horse” thesp Benedict Cumberbatch.

Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan adapted John Le Carre’s espionage novel, which follows George Smiley (Oldman), a veteran spy pulled out of semi-retirement to ferret out a Soviet agent in MI6. Focus previously distribbed another Le Carre adaptation, “The Constant Gardener,” in 2005.

In a shrewd counterprogramming move, Focus has positioned the prestige pic against Summit Entertainment’s cash cow “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1″ and Warner Bros.’ animated tentpole “Happy Feet 2 in 3D.”

StudioCanal fully financed the film, which was produced by Working Title, a company that has a first-look deal with Universal. Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner produced with Robyn Slovo, while Peter Morgan, Doug Urbanski, Liza Chasin, Debra Hayward and Le Carre exec produced.

Universal picked up the project out of Berlin, where it was one of the most buzzed-about titles on the market, with the Weinstein Co. and Summit Entertainment in hot pursuit.

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