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Gary Oldman’s Winston Churchill Film ‘Darkest Hour’ Gets Release Date, Rounds Out Cast

Focus Features has set a Nov. 24, 2017, release date for Gary Oldman’s “Darkest Hour” in the U.S.

Universal Pictures International is handling international distribution, starting with the U.K. on Dec. 29, 2017.

Oldman has been attached to play British Prime Minister Winston Churchill since April. Production is set to begin this fall.

The cast includes John Hurt as Neville Chamberlain, whom Churchill succeeded as Prime Minister; Lily James (“Downton Abbey”) as Churchill’s personal secretary; Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI; and Kristin Scott Thomas as Churchill’s wife, Clementine.

Joe Wright is directing “Darkest Hour,” derived from Churchill’s phrase to describe the period of World War II between the fall of France in June 1940 and the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union a year later in 1941, when the British Empire stood alone against Nazi Germany and the Axis Powers in Europe. During that period, the United Kingdom was under threat of invasion and bombardment with over 1,500 civilians dying in London alone in a single night from Lufwaffe bombing raids on May 10, 1941.

Churchill became Prime Minister in May 1940, and was under pressure to appease Germany. Three weeks after taking office, a quickly assembled British fleet of more than 800 boats saved more than 335,000 soldiers who had been cut off by the German army at Dunkirk on the French coast. As the rescue was concluding, Churchill told Parliament, “We shall fight on beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.”

Anthony McCarten, who received Oscar nominations for writing and producing Working Title’s “The Theory of Everything,” is the screenwriter and producer on “Darkest Hour.” Lisa Bruce and Working Title co-chiefs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are also producing.

Oldman previously worked with Working Title on “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” for which he received a best actor Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of George Smiley.

Wright previous directed “Pride & Prejudice,” “Atonement,” and “Anna Karenina” for Working Title and Focus.

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