Principal photography has officially begun in the UK on The Secret Garden, a new adaptation of the classic 1911 book by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Oscar winner Colin Firth will be starring alongside two-time Oscar nominee Julie Walters in the picture, which reunites StudioCanal and Heyday Films following their hit Paddington films.
This reimagining of The Secret Garden is moving the setting from the Edwardian era to 1947, on the eve of Partition in India, and in the aftermath of WW2 in Britain.
The official synopsis is as follows:
Set in England, THE SECRET GARDEN tells the story of Mary Lennox, played by Dixie Egerickx best known for her roles in GENIUS, THE LITTLE STRANGER and A ROYAL WINTER, a prickly and unloved 10-year-old girl, born in India to wealthy British parents who never wanted her. When her parents suddenly die, she is sent back to England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven (Oscar and BAFTA winner Colin Firth – A SINGLE MAN, THE KING’S SPEECH, KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE, BRIDGET JONES’S BABY), on his remote country estate deep in the Yorkshire moors. There, she begins to uncover many family secrets, particularly when she meets her sickly cousin Colin (Edan Hayhurst – GENIUS, IT WOULD CHANGE EVERYTHING), shut away in a wing of the house. It is a story of two damaged, slightly misfit, children who heal each other – partly through their exposure to a wondrous secret garden, lost in the grounds of Misselthwaite Manor. Oscar nominated and BAFTA winning Julie Walters (PADDINGTON 1 & 2, MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN, FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL) will play Mrs Medlock, the head housekeeper at Misselthwaite. Amir Wilson (THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING) joins the stellar cast as Dickon with Isis Davis (GUILT, ELECTRIC DREAMS) as Martha.
Directing The Secret Garden is Marc Munden, who’s perhaps best known for directing acclaimed television series such as Utopia and National Treasure. Adapting Burnett’s classic piece of literature is screenwriter Jack Thorne, whose credits include TV shows This Is England, Skins and National Treasure, and features How I Live Now, A Long Way Down and Wonder.
Paddington 1 and 2 producers David Heyman (Harry Potter, Gravity) and Rosie Alison (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) are also on board, with Jane Robertson co-producing and Didier Lupfer, Danny Perkins and Dan MacRae attached as executive producers.
“This is a fantastical reimagining of The Secret Garden: I can’t wait to explore it,” Munden said in a statement. “It’s an opportunity to immerse ourselves in an uncanny and wondrous world, which will play to the imaginations of adults and children alike.”
Added Heyman: “I’m delighted to be working again with StudioCanal on The Secret Garden, brought so vividly to life by writer Jack Thorne. I’m excited that our director, Marc Munden, will be bringing his distinct imaginative vision to this enduring childhood story. And I could not be more thrilled that Colin Firth and Julie Walters have joined the journey, alongside a remarkable new trio of young actors.”
And Alison said: “The Secret Garden is a unique imaginative story, full of mystery and wonder, and we’re thrilled that Marc Munden will be bringing his visionary eye to Jack Thorne’s heartfelt script. In Colin Firth and Julie Walters, we’re delighted to have the ideal cast to bring this story to life. And we’re enormously excited to showcase three remarkable young actors in Dixie Egerickx, Edan Hayhurs and Amir Wilson.”
StudioCanal developed The Secret Garden, is also on board as full financier and is also set to distribute the film throughout Australia, New Zealand, the UK, France and Germany. StudioCanal will have the project up for worldwide sales at the upcoming Cannes Marché du Film.