STXfilms announced on Monday that it has acquired North American rights to “The Secret Garden,” starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters.
“The Secret Garden” is a new take on the classic children’s novel of the same name written by Frances Hodgson Burnett, brought forward to a new time period in 1947 England, on the eve of Partition in India, and in the aftermath of World War II.
The film was directed by BAFTA-winner Marc Munden (“National Treasure,” “Utopia”) from a screenplay by Jack Thorne (“Harry Potter and The Cursed Child”). Dixie Egerickx will also star as Mary Lennox.
“The Secret Garden” tells the story of Mary Lennox, a prickly and unloved 10-year-old girl, born in India to wealthy British parents. When they suddenly die, she is sent back to England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven (Colin Firth) on his remote country estate deep in the Yorkshire moors. There, she begins to uncover many family secrets, particularly after meeting her sickly cousin Colin (Edan Hayhurst), who has been shut away in a wing of the house. Together, these two damaged, slightly misfit children heal each other through their discovery of a wondrous secret garden, lost in the grounds of Misselthwaite Manor.
“The original ‘Secret Garden’ novel continues to be beloved by both children and adults around the world,” STXfilms chairman Adam Fogelson said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to partner with Studiocanal and Heyday, who together have worked on some of the most popular and well received family films of the last decade and look forward to bringing a fresh take on this fantastical story to life for audiences around North America.”
The film was previously set up at Global Road Entertainment. The distributor, established after Donald Tang acquired the Oscar-winning distributor Open Road in 2017 and combined it with sales and production company IM Global, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September last year after failing to raise $200 million in financing.
“We are delighted to have found the perfect home for the film with STXfilms, and we look forward to U.S. audiences being able to enter the magical world of ‘The Secret Garden,'” Studiocanal CEO Didier Lupfer said in a statement.
Walters (“Paddington 1 & 2,” “Harry Potter” franchise) plays Mrs. Medlock, the head housekeeper at Misselthwaite, with Amir Wilson (“The Kid Who Would Be King”) joining the cast as Dickon, alongside Isis Davis (Guilt, Electric Dreams) as Martha.
David Heyman (“Harry Potter” franchise, “Paddington 1& 2”) and Rosie Alison (“Paddington 1 &2”) are producing the film and Jane Robertson (“Bridget Jones’s Baby”) will co-produce. STXfilms will distribute “The Secret Garden” in the U.S. and Canada.
STX’s Jordan Lichtman and Carolyn Steinmetz negotiated the deal on behalf of the studio with Anna Marsh, executive vice president of international distribution and U.K. managing director at Studiocanal.