Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they have acquired all rights in North America, Thailand, France, and China to The Phantom of the Open, starring Academy Award winner Mark Rylance, Academy Award nominee Sally Hawkins, and BAFTA Award nominee Rhys Ifans. The heartwarming true story is directed by filmmaker and BAFTA Cymru Award winning actor Craig Roberts. The screenplay is adapted by Simon Farnaby from his own book The Phantom of the Open, co-authored by Scott Murray. Farnaby is also the writer of the global box-office success Paddington 2, for which he was nominated for two BAFTA Awards and won a British Academy Children’s Award for Best Children’s Film.
The film is a co-production between Water & Power Productions and Baby Cow Productions, and is produced by Kate Glover, Nichola Martin, and Tom Miller. Executive producers are Christine Langan and James Swarbrick together with Cornerstone Films’ Alison Thompson and Mark Gooder, Ingenious Media’s Peter Touche and Christelle Conan, Mary Burke for the BFI, and BBC Film’s Rose Garnett and Emma Duffy. The film was developed by the BFI, awarding funds from the National Lottery and BBC Film. Funding came from the BFI, BBC Film, and Ingenious Media.
The Phantom of the Open follows Maurice Flitcroft (Mark Rylance), a dreamer and unrelenting optimist who managed to gain entry to The British Open Golf Championship Qualifying in 1976 and subsequently shot the worst round in Open history, becoming a folk hero in the process.
This project reunites Sony Pictures Classics with Sally Hawkins, who previously starred in the 2016 film Maudie and the 2013 drama Blue Jasmine, the latter earning her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the 86th Academy Awards. The film also marks a continued artistic relationship between Hawkins and Roberts; the pair previously worked together on Roberts’ 2019 directorial debut, Eternal Beauty, and both starred in Richard Ayoade’s 2010 coming-of-age film Submarine.
Sony Pictures Classics said of the film, “A jaw-dropping true story. We know audiences will be delighted by this underdog tale, brought to life by director Craig Roberts with the incomparable Mark Rylance and Sally Hawkins, comedic and humane, both at career peak.”
Craig Roberts added, “I’m extremely grateful that SPC share our love for Maurice and his wonderful story. They are the perfect fit for this project. I’m very proud of what our cast and crew have created. I hope that Maurice’s superpowers make the world a better place.”
The producers stated, “SPC has long been the home of the best in independent filmmaking and we couldn’t be more pleased to be teaming up with them on this on fantastic movie.”
Sarah Monteith of Baby Cow Productions said, “SPC are the perfect partners to bring the joy of this beautifully optimistic movie to audiences around the world.”
The deal was negotiated by Cornerstone on behalf of the filmmakers.
Photo: Nick Wall