Exciting new film announced!
Deadline exclusively announced on 14 December 2018 that Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan are to star in new feature film Ammonite which will be directed by Francis Lee (God’s Own Country).
Set in a UK coastal town in the 1840s, the drama will follow the unlikely romance between palaeontologist Mary Anning and a London woman of means to whom she must unexpectedly play nursemaid. The film tells the story of real-life palaeontologist and fossil collector Mary Anning, who was born in Dorset in 1799. Production is due to start in March 2019.
The film is being co-financed by the BFI and BBC Films, with Mary Burke, Rose Garnett, Zygi Kamasa and Simon Gillis of See-Saw Films executive producing. See-Saw developed the drama with BBC Films and the BFI. Gillis brokered the pre-sales on behalf of Cross City Films.
Filming has started!
In March 2019, the scenic town of Lyme Regis on the West Dorset coast was given a 19th century makeover to recreate the setting in which palaeontologist Mary Anning lived and worked as filming began with both Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan spotted.
Kate Winslet plays Mary Anning and Saoirse Ronan plays a wealthy London woman who is advised by her husband to spend time in Lyme Regis and to “get a hobby,” the Irish actor explained in an interview with Sirius XM.
There has been some online discussion around the storyline for Ammonite. Mary Anning never married, and she had several close friendships with women. However, her portrayal as a queer/lesbian woman has split opinions among her descendants.
The Director responds to online media speculation
Director Francis Lee responded on Twitter to media speculation around the film. I find it interesting that there is so much backlash against this film, when The Favourite technically did the same thing! The film is described as being ‘inspired by’ and not a straight biopic.
After seeing queer history be routinely ‘straightened’ throughout culture, and given a historical figure where there is no evidence whatsoever of a heterosexual relationship, is it not permissible to view that person within another context…?
— Francis Lee (@strawhousefilms) March 17, 2019
Following the box office success of The Favourite, and the sudden explosion of lesbian biographic films including Can You Ever Forgive Me, Colette and Lizzie it is no surprise that another film based on a historical woman is being made. However with such stories there is always the challenge that without the proof, should a real person be portrayed so blatantly as a lesbian? This is the problem – it wasn’t safe or accepted to be out so it is unlikely that there would be any evidence; but without being able to create films that read between the lines, our queer history is pretty-much erased forever.
UK distribution confirmed!
Deadline exclusively announced that Lionsgate UK will distribute Ammonite in the UK.
Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has taken a slew of international territories including Asia, Italy, LatAm, Middle East, Scandinavia, South Africa, Spain and Turkey. Lionsgate came out on top in the UK and Transmission Films has got Australia/NZ.