Sundance: Sony Pictures Classics Buys Living Remake Starring Bill Nighy

“Living,” an acclaimed re-imagining of Akira Kurosawa’s classic meaning-of-life story, has been sold to Sony Pictures Classics follow its premiere at Sundance Film Festival.

Sony Pictures Classics, the indie division of Sony Pictures, has acquired rights in North America, Latin America, India, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Germany, South Africa, Southeast Asia and airlines worldwide. A release date has not been announced yet.

“Living” was directed by Oliver Hermanus and written by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro. Adapted from Kurosawa’s 1952 film “Ikiru,” the story takes place in 1950s Great Britain and follows a veteran civil servant (portrayed by Nighy), reduced by years of oppressive office routine to a shadow of existence. A terminal medical diagnosis forces him to take stock and try to grasp fulfillment.

In addition to Nighy, the cast includes Aimee Lou Wood (“Sex Education), Alex Sharp (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”) and Tom Burke (“The Souvenir”).

“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 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 garnered near-unanimous praise at the virtual Sundance Film Festival, which is currently running through Jan. 30. In Variety’s review, chief film critic Peter Debruge says “Living” is “undeniably moving” and singled out Nighy, the British actor best known for “Love Actually” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

“In ‘Living,’ the dying man is played by Bill Nighy, whose unusually understated performance is all the more striking, given what a firecracker the actor remains well into his 70s — ever since stealing ‘Love Actually’ out from under a much younger ensemble, really,” Debruge wrote.

Stephen Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen of Number 9 Films served as producers on “Living.” The duo also produced the upcoming Sony Pictures Classics drama “Mothering Sunday.” The film has been developed with support from Film4 and Ingenious, with financing from Film4, County Hall Arts, and Lipsync. Kurosawa Productions served as executive producer.

Woolley added, “‘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. 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 honoured 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.”

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