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‘Blithe Spirit’ With Judi Dench, Dan Stevens, Isla Fisher Scores International Sales

Filming has started on “Blithe Spirit,” an adaptation of Noel Coward’s classic comedy about love that just won’t die. Judi Dench, Isla Fisher and Dan Stevens are among the cast in the picture, which is helmed by Edward Hall (“Downton Abbey”). Protagonist has closed a raft of pre-sales on the project, which was previously adapted for the screen by David Lean in 1945.

Other cast members in the movie from Fred Films, Powder Keg Pictures, British Lion Films, Align Pictures and Protagonist Pictures include Leslie Mann, Julian Rhind-Tut, Emilia Fox, Dave Johns, and James Fleet.

The story tracks crime writer Charles (Stevens), who is struggling with writer’s block and a deadline for his first screenplay. His second wife, Ruth (Fisher), is doing her best to keep him focused in the hope of fulfilling her dream of heading to Hollywood. When Charles invites medium Madame Arcati (Dench) to perform a séance, she accidentally summons the spirit of his deceased first wife, the fiery and jealous Elvira (Mann), who embarks on a mission to kill Charles.

“The cast and team that have gathered together to realize this colorful and original comedy are testament to the enduring appeal of Noel Coward’s unique story,” said Hall, who described the tale as “elegant, escapist and anarchic.”

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Studiocanal has snapped up the U.K. rights to the film, which is being financed by Align, the newly formed L.A.-based production and financing group. Align CEO Adrian Politowski and SVP of production Martin Metz are producing. James Spring, Meg Leonard, and Nick Moorcroft, who count “Fisherman’s Friends” among their credits, are also producing, alongside Hilary Bevan Jones (“Pirate Radio”), Peter Snell (“The Wicker Man”), and Toni Pinnolis. Leonard and Moorcroft wrote the screenplay with Piers Ashworth.

Protagonist is handling sales and has closed a raft of  deals, including with Transmission for Australasia, A Contracorriente for Spain, Scanbox for Scandinavia, Cinepolis for Latin America and Forum Films for Israel.

“We were confident this timeless comedy, paired with a stellar cast, would entice buyers and are absolutely thrilled to return from Cannes with such strong partners,” said Vanessa Saal, managing director for sales and distribution at Protagonist.

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