IFC Films has acquired “Official Secrets,” a politically charged thriller with Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes that debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The deal is in the $2 million range and is for U.S. rights only.
Directed by Gavin Hood, the film is a ripped-from-the-headlines tale about Katharine Gun, a British whistleblower who leaked documents to the press. Her goal was to expose an illegal U.S./U.K. spying operation in the lead-up to the Iraq War that she hoped would lead citizens to question the rationale for the invasion. Gun, an intelligence translator, discovered that the governments were trying to strongarm the U.N. Security Counsel members in order to drum up support for deposing Saddam Hussein.
It is the second Sundance acquisition for IFC Films. The studio previously bought Jennifer Kent’s “The Nightingale” in the lead-up to the festival.
IFC is planning a traditional theatrical release for “Official Secrets” at some point in 2019. The cast includes Matthew Goode, Matt Smith, and Rhys Ifans. Producers include Ged Doherty, Elizabeth Fowler, and Melissa Shiyu Zuo.
Hood teamed with Sara Bernstein and Gregory Bernstein to adapt the book “The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War: Katharine Gun and the Secret Plot to Sanction the Iraq Invasion” by Marcia and Thomas Mitchell. The film debuted in Sundance on Monday. Buyers were interested in the film because Hood’s last picture, “Eye in the Sky,” was a breakout hit when it debuted in 2015, going on to gross $34.6 million at the box office.
The deal closed on Saturday. CAA and UTA Independent Film Group represented the filmmakers. Arianna Bocco, IFC Film’s EVP of acquisitions and productions, negotiated on behalf of the studio.