We reported a few months back on the new Benedict Cumberbatch drama The Imitation Game and its potential for being one of the more interesting titles to look forward to in 2014. Now, it’s become finalized that The Weinstein Company has snapped up U.S. rights to the period drama which stars Cumberbatch as British mathematician and code breaker Alan Turing, who helped crack the German Enigma Code, aiding the Allies to victory in WWII. With the backing of the Harvey Weinstein publicity machine, The Imitation Game may be primed to be major Oscar contender to look out for this year.The film was picked up at the European Film Market, which is a part of the ongoing Berlin Film Festival, by The Weinstein Company for $7 million, believed to be a record sale price for U.S. distribution rights. The Imitation Game was directed by Morten Tyldum (Headhunters) and written by Graham Moore, whose script was featured on the 2011 Black List of the best un-produced Hollywood screenplays. Keira Knightley (who also stars in the upcoming Can a Song Save Your Life?, which was picked up by The Weinstein Company at last years Toronto Film Festival), Mark Strong (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) and Matthew Goode (Watchmen) also star.
Turing’s true life story was one of valor, but of immense hardship. As he was celebrated as a war hero and a forerunner of computer science, he was also a homosexual and, sadly, his story didn’t come with a happy ending. He spent his latter years persecuted and disgraced as he was convicted of homosexual activity and in 1954, and took his own life two years after being subjected to a chemical castration. Just this year, Turing was officially pardoned under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy adding a recent nod of poignancy to the story. Not to be slight, but in the right hands, The Imitation Game could serve as a remembrance of a culturally significant figure (one whose innovation helped paved the way for future computer development) and an important and poignant recalling of a painful and not-too-distant period in human history.
Harvey Weinstein was quoted on the purchase saying, “These guys got it so perfect, they did a better job than I ever could have. Benedict is unbelievable, and this is going to be a big year for Keira. Between this and Can A Song Save Your Life? she is going to be a major star. We look at this as a major release and we’re thrilled to have it.” There is no word yet on possible release dates yet for The Imitation Game, but the familiar path might be to tour one or more of the major fall film festivals (Telluride, Toronto, Venice) before landing a late 2014 awards qualifying release.