SONY PICTURES CLASSICS ACQUIRES WORLDWIDE RIGHTS TO NICHOLAS HYTNER’S ‘THE CHORAL’, WRITTEN BY ALAN BENNETT AND STARRING RALPH FIENNES, JIM BROADBENT, AND SIMON RUSSELL BEALE

Sony Pictures Classics - 03/21/2024

Production begins in Yorkshire this May with financing from Sony Pictures Classics, BBC Film, and Screen Yorkshire

NEW YORK (March 21, 2024) – Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they have acquired all rights worldwide to THE CHORAL, directed by Nicholas Hytner and written by BAFTA- and Tony-winning playwright and screenwriter Alan Bennett. The film will star a celebrated cast: Academy Award® nominee and BAFTA winner Ralph Fiennes, Academy Award® and BAFTA winner Jim Broadbent, and BAFTA winner Simon Russell Beale. Principal photography begins in Yorkshire this May.

With financing from Sony Pictures Classics, BBC Film, and Screen Yorkshire, this is the fourth feature collaboration between Bennett and Hytner after THE LADY IN THE VAN, THE HISTORY BOYS, and THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE. Unlike those films, THE CHORAL is not based on a play but is an original screenplay.

Hytner will produce the film alongside Kevin Loader (THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD) and Damian Jones (RYE LANE). Executive producers include Caroline Charles, Eva Yates, Paul Grindey, and Charles Moore.

THE CHORAL takes place in Ramsden, Yorkshire, 1916. The chorus master and most of the men of the ambitious local Choral Society have volunteered for the front, so under the direction of the demanding, driven Dr. Guthrie (Fiennes), the Choral recruits a crop of teenage boys and girls. Together they discover the joys of singing and the urgency of desire as the new boys come to terms with their imminent conscription into the army. THE CHORAL explores the humor and humanity at the heart of a community facing an uncertain future.

Sony Pictures Classics previously released Hytner and Bennett’s THE LADY IN THE VAN. THE CHORAL also reunites Sony Pictures Classics with Fiennes, whose last two directorial efforts, THE WHITE CROW and THE INVISIBLE WOMAN, were released by the distributor in addition to several of his films as an actor, including THE WHITE COUNTESS. Like Fiennes, Broadbent has starred in several Sony Pictures Classics’ films, including THE DUKE (2022) and ANOTHER YEAR (2010).

Hytner said, “A new screenplay from Alan Bennett is a major event and THE CHORAL is as affecting and funny as anything he’s written in his long career. I am thrilled to be continuing my collaboration with him, and with the three remarkable leading actors.”

Sony Pictures Classics said, “It is a glorious day when Nick Hytner and Alan Bennett create a new film together, and THE CHORAL is destined to be one of their very best collaborations. The screenplay is sublime and the cast spectacular. It is a privilege and a pleasure to be back in business with them and producers Kevin Loader and Damian Jones on what will be a theatrical success worldwide.”

Eva Yates, Director of BBC Film said, “It’s exciting to continue the BBC’s long-standing relationship with Alan Bennett—from TALKING HEADS and THE HISTORY BOYS to more recent releases THE LADY IN THE VAN and ALLELUJAH! Bennett and Hytner are an exceptional creative partnership and we are so pleased to be a home for their latest collaboration alongside our partners at Sony Pictures Classics and Screen Yorkshire.”

Caroline Cooper Charles, CEO at Screen Yorkshire said, “It’s fantastic to see these stellar talents reunite around a story which celebrates the pride and resilience of our communities in such a distinctive way.  We’re so looking forward to welcoming the whole team to realise this wonderful story here in Yorkshire.”

Sony will release the film theatrically worldwide, including in the UK.

ABOUT SONY PICTURES CLASSICS       

Michael Barker and Tom Bernard serve as co-presidents of Sony Pictures Classics—an autonomous division of Sony Pictures Entertainment they founded with Marcie Bloom in January 1992—which distributes, produces, and acquires independent films from around the world.  Barker and Bernard have released prestigious films that have won 41 Academy Awards® (37 of those at Sony Pictures Classics) and have garnered 187 Academy Award® nominations (161 at Sony Pictures Classics) including Best Picture nominations for THE FATHER, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, WHIPLASH, AMOUR, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, AN EDUCATION, CAPOTE, HOWARDS END, and CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. 

ABOUT SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT      

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition, and distribution; television production, acquisition, and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services.

http://www.sonypictures.com/corp/divisions.html

ABOUT BBC FILM

Firmly established at the forefront of UK film, BBC Film has an ambitious slate featuring many of the most exciting filmmakers working today.

BBC Film’s recent cinema releases include: THE IRON CLAW from Sean Durkin (The Nest) starring Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson, Maura Tierney and Lily James; ONE LIFE directed by James Hawes starring Anthony Hopkins, Johnny Flynn, Romola Garai and Helena Bonham-Carter; Mahalia Belo’s THE END WE START FROM, written by Alice Birch and based on the novel by Megan Hunter, starring Jodie Comer, Joel Fry, Katherine Waterston, Mark Strong, Gina McKee, Nina Sosanya, and Benedict Cumberbatch; 2023’s top grossing UK independent film THE GREAT ESCAPER from Oliver Parker, starring Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson; Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping’s BIFA-winning FEMME, starring George MacKay and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett; Charlotte Regan’s BIFA-winning and BAFTA-nominated SCRAPPER which won the World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival and stars Harris Dickinson, Lola Campbell and Alin Uzun. Also BAFTA-nominated in 2024 for Outstanding British Film were Raine Allen-Miller’s RYE LANE starring David Jonsson and BIFA-winning, BAFTA Leading Actress nominee Vivian Oparah, and Ken Loach’s THE OLD OAK written by long-time collaborator Paul Laverty, and starring Dave Turner and Ebla Mari.

Upcoming BBC Film titles include: Sundance 2024 hit THE OUTRUN directed by Nora Fingscheidt, based on Amy Liptrot’s best-selling memoir and starring Saoirse Ronan, Paapa Essiedu, Stephen Dillane, and Saskia Reeves; Martin Scorsese narrated documentary MADE IN ENGLAND: THE FILMS OF POWELL AND PRESSBURGER directed by David Hinton which premiered at Berlin Film Festival 2024; BAFTA-nominated director Lucy Cohen’s magical coming-of-age tale EDGE OF SUMMER which premiered at Glasgow Film Festival 2024; HOARD from Luna Carmoon, starring Saura Lightfoot Leon, Joseph Quinn, Hayley Squires and Deba Hekmat which took three prizes at Venice Critics’ Week, including the Audience Award; Sacha Polak’s SILVER HAZE starring Vicky Knight and Esme Creed-Miles; TUESDAY from Daina O. Pusić, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lola Petticrew and Arinzé Kene; Annie Baker’s JANET PLANET starring Julianne Nicholson, Zoe Ziegler, Elias Koteas, Sophie Okonedo and Will Patton; Daniel Kokotajlo’s second film, STARVE ACRE starring Matt Smith and Morfydd Clark; and, Naqqash Khalid’s IN CAMERA, starring Nabhaan Rizwan, Amir El-Masry, and Rory Fleck Byrne.

Acclaimed BBC Film titles in the last few years include Charlotte Wells’s BAFTA-winning, and Oscar-nominated AFTERSUN starring Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio; Jane Campion’s Oscar and BAFTA award-winning THE POWER OF THE DOG starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Jessie Plemons and Kirsten Dunst; Joanna Hogg’s THE SOUVENIR, THE SOUVENIR PART II and THE ETERNAL DAUGHTER starring Tilda Swinton; Fyzal Boulifa’s debut LYNN + LUCY and second feature THE DAMNED DON’T CRY; Palme d’Or winning and multi Oscar-nominated TRIANGLE OF SADNESS from Ruben Östlund, starring Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean, Dolly de Leon, Zlatko Burić, Henrik Dorsin, Vicki Berlin, and Woody Harrelson; and the four-time BAFTA-nominated and six-time BIFA-winning AFTER LOVE, Aleem Khan’s debut film starring Joanna Scanlan, BAFTA winner for Leading Actress.

bbc.co.uk/bbcfilm / @BBCFilm

ABOUT SCREEN YORKSHIRE

Screen Yorkshire is the engine that drives the film and TV industries in Yorkshire and Humber, UK. Its aim is to secure and support the very best projects, companies and individuals, helping to make the region one of the most sought-after destinations for production in the UK. They facilitate the Yorkshire Content Fund that provides production finance to encourage projects to shoot within the region. Our Film Office is staffed by industry professionals and supports productions from all over the world that want to film in the region. 

Screen Yorkshire also delivers groundbreaking training and development programmes to foster talent and build a skilled, versatile and diverse workforce with local and national industry partners.

Sony Pictures Classics Press Contact:           

spc@id-pr.com

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