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Rebecca Ferguson to Star in Biopic ‘The Lady and the Panda’

Rebecca Ferguson will star as Ruth Harkness in the historical adventure “The Lady and the Panda.”

Filming is expected to begin next month in China in the Sichuan region in the foothills of the Himalayas. The Exchange is launching sales at the American Film Market next month.

The Lady and the Panda” is a U.K./Chinese co-production, produced by Laura Bickford (“Traffic,” “Beasts of No Nation”) and Michelle Qi, CEO of Europe China Picture Group. The executive producers are Joe Simpson of Miscellaneous Entertainment, Andrew Mann, and Fiona Druckenmiller (“Beasts of No Nation”).

Harkness was the first person to bring a live panda from China to the United States. She was a New York socialite whose wealthy explorer husband died unexpectedly in 1936. She took over his expedition to China, joined forces with Chinese guide Quentin Young, and traveled into the uncharted Himalayas, where, against all odds, they rescued an orphaned baby panda.

The panda, Su Lin, was bottle-fed baby formula as Harkness took the panda back to the U.S. and created a nationwide sensation, promoting headlines like “Pandamonium!” But before long, Harkness realized that pandas are best preserved in their natural habitat. Su Lin ended up at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago.

Variety first reported the project had come together on Oct. 24 with Justin Chadwick will direct from a script he wrote with Bickford and Holly Gent Palmo, based on Harkness’ original correspondence. The production team includes sound mixer Ray Beckett, who won an Academy Award for “The Hurt Locker”;  costume designer Terry Anderson, whose credits include “Inception” and “Captain America: The First Avenger”; and production designer Juiping Cao (“Kill Bill: Vol. 1”).

The Exchange’s slate includes “Gleason,” “A Street Cat Named Bob,” and Stephanie Laing’s “Irreplaceable You.”

Ferguson will soon be seen playing the female lead in Sony’s Life,” starring Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal and co-stars with Michael Fassbender in Universal Pictures’ “The Snowman.” She will return to film Paramount’s sixth “Mission: Impossible” with Tom Cruise and Jeremy Renner; and also is soon commence work on Fox’s “The Greatest Showman on Earth” with Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Michelle Williams.

“Rebecca’s last five movies were wide releases by US Studio films, and she has three more to be released in 2017,” said Brian O’Shea of The Exchange.” The world sees her as a marquee name, and given her talent, charm, strength and beauty she is the perfect lead for ‘The Lady and The Panda’ and will bring this sweeping epic story to audiences across the globe.”

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