Sony Pictures Classics has acquired the worldwide rights to the Kenneth Branagh film All Is True. Branagh directs the proceedings in addition to starring as William Shakespeare during a little-known period at the end of the playwright’s life. Judi Dench and Ian McKellen will co-star, bringing Ben Elton’s first original dramatic script to life. Sony will give the film a one-week theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles near Christmas to qualify for awards season, then will distribute the picture for wider release in 2019, according to Deadline.
The film is set in 1613 — shortly before Shakespeare’s death in 1616 — in the immediate aftermath of the famous Globe Theatre having burned to the ground. Having already received a lifetime of acclaim in London, but now rudderless without the theatre that he plied his craft in for decades, the film follows the erstwhile playwright as he returns home to Stratford. There, he must face the ghosts of his past — without his writing and fanfare to shield him. Shakespeare is forced to come to terms with the death of his only son, Hamnet, and to try to mend the relationships with the wife and daughters that he has neglected for so long. Throughout, the narrative threatens to expose the secrets and the lies within his divided family.
“We have known and worked with Ken for 25 years. We feel this is a movie he was destined to make,” Sony Pictures Classics said in a statement. “He conjures up for us the depth and dramatic richness of a character about whom we have always been fascinated.”
Sony is apparently high on the project, as The Wrap quotes another statement from the film company as saying, “What we have seen has confirmed our excitement to plan a qualifying run at the end of this year and to open the movie fully in the new year. We believe audiences will embrace the freshness of ‘All Is True’.”
Though he has an extensive body of work and acclaim outside of the Shakespearean canon, Branagh is most well-known for a long career both as a director and as a performer of Shakespeare’s corpus — on stage and on screen. He is arguably the most famous alumnus from his era at the Royal Shakespeare Company, producing a litany of well-received works. In 2000, he became the youngest actor to win the Golden Quill. He received Oscar nominations for his film versions of Henry V and Hamlet, while also directing and starring in the film adaptations of Much Ado About Nothing, Love’s Labor’s Lost, and As You Like It.