Emma Mackey as Emily Brontë. (Image: Michael Wharley)

Emily Brontë is the latest author to pique the interest of Arenamedia, with production starting on Frances O’Connor’s directorial debut, Emily, in the UK.

Having recently adapted the work of Jane Harper for The Dry, with plans to do the same for Tim Winton’s Blueback, Robert Connolly’s company will turn its attention to the life of the Wuthering Heights author.

O’Connor, most recently seen on screen in Sky UK/Foxtel’s The End, also penned the script for the film, which tells Brontë’s origin story.

Emma Mackey (Sex Education) leads a cast that includes Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Invisible Man), Alexandra Dowling (The Musketeers), Amelia Gething (The Spanish Princess), as well as Gemma Jones (Rocketman), and Adrian Dunbar (Line of Duty).

Robert Connolly and Robert Patterson will produce for Arenamedia, alongside David Barron (Harry Potter franchise) and Piers Tempest (Military Wives).

Backers include Ingenious Media, with Peter Touche as an executive producer, as well as from Spitfire Audio Holdings, The Post Republic, and Tempo.

Madman Entertainment has picked up ANZ distribution rights from Embankment, who is executive producing and arranging financing.

Embankment have already sold multiple territories including the UK to Warner Bros., as well as France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Benelux, Scandinavia, Greece, Israel, Middle East, and South Africa.

O’Connor said she hoped the biopic would spark renewed interest in Brontë.

“Emily Brontë’s writing is steeped in such passion, feeling, violence, and fierce intelligence – that I’ve always yearned to know who she really was,” she said.

Emily is about a rebel and misfit, a young woman daring to form herself, to embrace her true nature, despite the consequences. 

“Our film will brim with energy – intimately capturing the emotional intensity and adrenalin of youth, with all its messy honesty, heartbreak, humour, and fearlessness; matched by the scale of our stunning locations.”

Heads of department include costume designer Michael O’Connor (Jane Eyre), director of photography Nanu Segal (The Levelling), production designer Steve Summersgill (The Grand Budapest Hotel), casting director Fiona Weir (Judy), hair and make-up designer Lucy Cain (Killing Eve) and editor Sam Sneade (Sexy Beast).

Connolly said he was looking forward to seeing the project come to life.

Emily is a remarkable work, and with our partners in the UK we are thrilled to be supporting Frances in realising her vision to write and direct her first feature film,” he said.

“We also look forward to working with our friends at Madman on the release of the film for Australian audiences.”

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