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Mark Rylance Golf Comedy ‘The Phantom of the Open’ Lands at Sony Pictures Classics

Craig Roberts’ film about a historically bad round at the British Open is based on a book by ”Paddington 2“ writer Simon Farnaby

Sony Pictures Classics drove for the green and acquired a Mark Rylance golf comedy called “The Phantom of the Open.” The film comes from director Craig Roberts and is a true story based on one of the worst rounds of golf ever.

Mark Rylance stars in “The Phantom of the Open,” previously titled “The Fantastic Flitcrofts,” as Maurice Flitcroft, a dreamer and unrelenting optimist who managed to gain entry to the British Open Golf Championship. After qualifying in 1976, he subsequently shot the worst round in Open history, becoming a folk hero in the process.

SPC picked up the North American, Thailand, France and China rights to the film. No release date has been set.

“The Phantom of the Open” also stars Sally Hawkins and Rhys Ifans. Simon Farnaby wrote the screenplay based on his own book of the same title that he co-wrote with Scott Murray. Farnaby is also the writer of “Paddington 2.”

“A jaw-dropping true story. We know audiences will be delighted by this underdog tale, brought to life by director Craig Roberts with the incomparable Mark Rylance and Sally Hawkins, comedic and humane, both at career peak,” Sony Pictures Classics said in a statement.

“I’m extremely grateful that SPC share our love for Maurice and his wonderful story,” Roberts said. “They are the perfect fit for this project. I’m very proud of what our cast and crew have created. I hope that Maurice’s superpowers make the world a better place.” 

The film is a co-production between Water & Power Productions and Baby Cow Productions and is produced by Kate Glover, Nichola Martin and Tom Miller. Executive producers are Christine Langan and James Swarbrick together with Cornerstone Films’ Alison Thompson and Mark Gooder, Ingenious Media’s Peter Touche and Christelle Conan, Mary Burke for the BFI, and BBC Film’s Rose Garnett and Emma Duffy. 

“The Phantom of the Open” was developed by the BFI, awarding funds from the National Lottery and BBC Film. Funding came from the BFI, BBC Film, and Ingenious Media. 

The deal was negotiated by Cornerstone on behalf of the filmmakers.