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Bill Nighy’s ‘Living’ Finds New Life at Sony Classics

Sundance 2022: Oliver Hermanus’ film re-imagines Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 classic ”Ikiru“

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired the North American rights to “Living,” the film from Oliver Hermanus starring Bill Nighy that premiered at this month’s Sundance Film Festival out of competition.

The film is a new take on Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film “Ikiru” and is written by Kazuo Ishiguro, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist whose own work has been adapted in films like “The Remains of the Day” and “Never Let You Go.”

Sony Pictures Classics also picked up rights to the film in Latin America, India, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Germany, South Africa, Southeast Asia and airlines worldwide. No release plans have been set.

“Living” is the story of a civil servant in London in 1953 as the city is still recovering from World War II who is tired of being a cog in the city’s bureaucracy, buried under paperwork and lonely at home with the feeling that his life has felt empty and meaningless. But when a medical diagnosis forces him to take stock of his life, he tries to grasp fulfillment before it goes beyond reach.

In addition to Nighy, the cast includes Aimee Lou Wood, Alex Sharp and Tom Burke.

The film is produced by Stephen Woolley (“The Crying Game”) and Elizabeth Karlsen (“Carol”) of Number 9 Films, who also produced Sony Pictures Classics’ upcoming drama “Mothering Sunday.” The film has been developed with support from Film4 and Ingenious, with financing from Film4, County Hall Arts, and Lipsync. Executive producers are Kurosawa Productions.

The film features costume design by 15-time Academy Award nominee and three-time winner Sandy Powell, hair and makeup design by Nadia Stacey, cinematography by Jamie Ramsay, and production design by Helen Scott, who all four recently worked together on “Mothering Sunday.”

“From the dazzling screenplay by Ishiguro, to the visual storytelling by Oliver Hermanus, to the spectacular performances led by Bill Nighy, to the evocative score and the perfection of the movie‘s design and costumes, ‘Living’ is that overwhelming, emotional movie audiences are hungering for in their return to theaters,” Sony Pictures Classics executives said in a statement. “We are thrilled to embark on this adventure with these artists and our producer friends Stephen Woolley, Liz Karlsen, Daniel Battsek, and Rocket Science.”

“’Living’ has been a work inspired by the passion of Kurosawa and built on by the equally passionate and sublimely talented Ishiguro, Bill Nighy and Oliver Hermanus,” Woolley said. “The team at Sony Pictures Classics have demonstrated for decades (with a track record of great movies that is unrivalled) that passion is the vital ingredient in not only making and creating vibrant movies but also releasing those films to audiences in North America and globally. Elizabeth and I as the producers of ‘Living’ are honored to be in their company again and we are excited to share this glorious film in cinemas where it rightly belongs to inspire audiences in 2022 to embrace Living.”

The deal was negotiated with CAA Media Finance and Rocket Science. The latter is handling international sales and previously worked with Sony Pictures Classics on “French Exit.”