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Exclusive’s Hammer Films Nabs Rights to Witch Trial Tale ‘Daylight Gate’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Story set during Pendle witch trials of 1612

Exclusive Media’s Hammer Films is heading back four centuries to witch trials, acquiring movie rights to Jeanette Winterson’s “The Daylight Gate.”

The novella, set in 17th Century England during the reign of James I, is centered on the notorious 1612 Pendle witch trials, during which a dozen people were charged with the murders of 10 people by the use of witchcraft. That paranoia  crossed the ocean with the Pilgrims and set the scene for the Salem witch hunt in the 1690s.

“The Daylight Gate” was released under the Arrow Books Hammer imprint from Random House in August 2012. Hammer said the deal reflects its ongoing goal to develop original content for both film and TV productions.

The announcement was made ahead of the Times Cheltenham Literature Festival’s “Hammer: Screen, Page and Beyond”  panel. Participants include Hammer topper Simon Oakes; Marcus Hearn,  author of “The Hammer Vault”; and Martyn Waites and Jon Croker, the respective author and screenwriter of Hammer’s “The Woman in Black: Angel of Death.”

“The Hammer imprint has really delivered some fantastic new writing and shows the vibrancy and variety of the modern day horror genre,” Oakes said. “The books under our Arrow Books deal are in themselves a fantastic extension of the Hammer brand, and Jeanette’s novella ‘The Daylight Gate’ is a fresh, exciting and compelling fictional work.”

Hammer announced in April that “The Woman in Black: Angel of Death” would star Jeremy Irvine (“War Horse”) and Phoebe Fox (“Switch”) for Exclusive Media and Cross Creek Pictures. Last year’s “Woman in Black,” starring Daniel Radcliffe and directed by James Watkins, grossed over $130 million worldwide with the same production team.

Winterson has penned “Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit,” “The Passion,” “Sexing the Cherry,” “The World and Other Places’,” “Art Objects” and “‘Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?” She adapted “Oranges” into a BBC television drama of the same name.

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