Sony Classics nabs bigscreen ‘Dancing’

NEW YORK — Sony Pictures Classics has picked up North American rights to the film adaptation of Brian Friel’s Tony Award-winning play “Dancing at Lughnasa.”

Meryl Streep is set to star in the film, which Pat O’Connor (“Circle of Friends”) will direct later this summer. Noel Pearson, who produced the film “My Left Foot” and the stage version of “Lughnasa,” will produce.

Talent perfectly suited

“After having been fans of this project for many years, it’s an honor to be working with Noel Pearson and again with Pat O’Connor,” said Michael Barker, co-president of SPC. “We feel Pat is a major filmmaker whose talents are perfectly suited to this great work.”

Barker and SPC co-presidents Tom Bernard and Marcie Bloom, when they were at Orion Classics, worked with O’Connor on his 1984 release “A Month in the Country,” starring Kenneth Branagh and Miranda Richardson.

The latest deal illustrates SPC’s commitment to pre-buying films at the script stage, a tradition that dates back to “Howards End” and continued most recently with “The Governess,” which is currently in production.

Joining Streep in “Lughnasa” are Brid Brennan (who will reprise her Tony Award-winning role as Agnes), Sophie Thompson, Catherine McCormack, Michael Gambon, Rhys Ifans and Kathy Burke, who was named best actress at Cannes this year for her performance in “Nil by Mouth,” another SPC release.

The screenplay for “Lughnasa” was penned by Frank McGuiness, who recently won a Tony Award for his adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” currently on Broadway. Kenneth MacMillan will act as d.p. on the pic, which will shoot on location in Ireland and at Ardmore Studios.

The deal was negotiated by Barker, Bernard and Bloom on behalf of SPC. Pearson negotiated the deal on behalf of Ferndale Films, which is co-producing with Pandora Films and Channel 4 Films.

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