Armando Iannucci’s ‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’ Acquired By Fox Searchlight Ahead of TIFF

Film starring Dev Patel based on Charles Dickens’ novel will open theatrically in 2020

The Personal History of David Copperfield
Fox Searchlight

Fox Searchlight Pictures has acquired the North American rights to “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” the next film from “Veep” creator Armando Iannucci, the studio announced on Thursday.

The project is a reimagined take on Charles Dickens’ novel starring Dev Patel as the title character. Fox Searchlight is planning a 2020 theatrical release for the film after it makes its premiere on Sept. 5 at the Toronto International Film Festival and later at the BFI London Film Festival on Oct. 2.

“The Personal History of David Copperfield” is the story of a man whose rogue spirit carries him through a colorful life of poverty and opulence. The film follows David, a burgeoning young writer, from orphaned infancy to adulthood as he befriends a collection of eccentric characters on a journey of love, acceptance and self-discovery in Victorian England. While the film is set in Victorian England, the story has been modernized and enhanced thanks to Iannucci’s sprawling, diverse cast.

Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi, Ben Whishaw, Paul Whitehouse, Aneurin Barnard, Daisy May Cooper, Morfydd Clark, Benedict Wong, Gwendoline Christie, Anthony Welsh and Rosalind Eleazar all co-star in the film.

“David Copperfield” is Iannucci’s third feature following “In the Loop” and “The Death of Stalin,” and he co-wrote the screenplay with Simon Blackwell. Iannucci is once again teaming with some of his frequent collaborators, which includes composer Christopher Willis, cinematographer Zac Nicholson, casting director Sarah Crowe, production designer Cristina Casaldi and editor Peter Lambert. The film is produced by Iannucci and Kevin Loader and was financed by FilmNation Entertainment and Film4.

“Armando Iannucci is a wonderfully original filmmaker and expert storyteller; he brings his irreverent and imaginative take to this iconic and beloved story,” Fox Searchlight chairmen Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula said in a statement. “As for Dev, he has consistently impressed since his unforgettable breakout roles in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.’ With his warmth, humor and diversity of roles throughout his career, it is particularly rewarding to see him lead such a spectacular ensemble in this film.”

“We are so pleased that Fox Searchlight’s early enthusiasm for this movie has paid off, and we’re excited by their plans to bring it to as wide an audience as possible in North America. We’re all proud of this film, and with Fox Searchlight, we have the right fit: we can’t wait to get started,” Iannucci and Loader said.

“We cannot wait to share with the world Armando’s fresh and fun interpretation of one of Dickens’ most beloved stories. We’re so fortunate to have Fox Searchlight and their best in class team on board as we prepare to charm audiences around the world with this incredible, character-driven tale,” FilmNation Entertainment CEO Glen Basner and Film4 director Daniel Battsek said.

The deal was brokered by Fox Searchlight’s executive vice president of acquisitions & co-productions Ray Strache with UTA Independent Film Group on behalf of FilmNation and the filmmakers.

Upcoming on Fox Searchlight’s slate through the remainder of this year and beyond are “Ready or Not,” “Lucy in the Sky,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “A Hidden Life,” “Wendy,” “Antlers” and “Downhill.”

News of the acquisition was first reported by Deadline.