Production Begins on Knightley’s ‘Atonement’


Working Title Films has begun principal photography on Atonement, directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, and Romola Garai. Focus Features CEO James Schamus and Working Title co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner announced today that Focus will distribute the film in the United States.

Christopher Hampton (Academy Award winner for Dangerous Liaisons) has written the screenplay adaptation of Ian McEwan’s award-winning best-selling 2002 novel of the same name. Shooting will take place in Shropshire, London, Grimsby, and the Teesside town of Redcar.

Messrs. Bevan and Fellner and Paul Webster are producing Atonement, which Universal Pictures International will distribute in all territories outside North America. The film’s executive producers are Richard Eyre, Robert Fox, Debra Hayward, and Liza Chasin.

The story of Atonement spans several decades. Newcomer Saoirse Ronan portrays fledgling writer Briony Tallis, who, as a 13-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s (Ms. Knightley) lover (Mr. McAvoy, last seen in The Chronicles of Narnia) of a crime he did not commit.

The new film reunites the filmmakers behind last year’s hit movie Pride & Prejudice, a Working Title production that Focus released domestically. Messrs. Bevan, Fellner, and Webster were also the producers of Pride & Prejudice. For his direction of that film, Mr. Wright won BAFTA’s Carl Foreman Award for Special Achievement by a British Director, Writer or Producer in Their First Feature Film. Ms. Knightley, production designer Sarah Greenwood, and costume designer Jacqueline Durran – all of whom received Academy Award nominations for their work on Pride & Prejudice – are also reteamed on Atonement. Additionally encoring from Pride & Prejudice are editor Paul Tothill (an American Cinema Editors Eddie Award nominee for the earlier film), and actors Brenda Blethyn and Peter Wight.

In addition to the previously mentioned actors, Atonement will also star Academy Award winner Vanessa Redgrave, Benedict Cumberbatch, Patrick Kennedy, Juno Temple, Daniel Mays, and Nonso Anozie. The cinematographer on Atonement is Seamus McGarvey (The Hours), with BAFTA Award nominee Ivana Primorac serving as hair and make-up designer.

Mr. Schamus commented, “It is a thrill to be collaborating with Tim & Eric, Joe Wright, and Keira Knightley again in bringing another extraordinary novel to the big screen.”

Mr. Webster said, “With Christopher Hampton’s beautiful script from Ian McEwan’s novel, our peerless cast and crew will create a classic British romance.”

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