Benedict Cumberbatch and his Sherlock director Paul McGuigan are teaming up for a biopic about Brian Epstein, the iconic manager of The Beatles.
Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are producing via their Playtone banner along with Simon Halfon
Todd Graff wrote the screenplay, whose focus is not a story about The Beatles from Epstein’s point of view but the story of Epstein himself.
Sometimes called the “fifth Beatle,” Epstein signed the band in 1961 — before Beatlemania hit — and died in 1967 from an accidental drug overdose. He was a closet homosexual and suffered from gambling and drug addictions — and was many times the glue that held the band together. The producers describe the project as the story of “the man who threw the biggest party of the 1960s but ultimately forgot to invite himself.”
UTA is arranging the financing and will represent the film for sale.
The casting news arrives as another Brian Epstein project, dubbed The Fifth Beatle, is coming together from author Vivek J. Tiwary, who will write and produce a big-screen adaptation of his graphic novel. That project has secured the rights to inlude Beatles songs from Sony/ATV, which controls the John Lennon/Paul McCartney music catalogue.
McGuigan is the main director of Sherlock, having directed four out of the six episodes of the hit BBC show (which has sold to more than 160 countries) and that earned Cumberbatch an Emmy nomination this year.
The actor, who had a role in Playtone’s 2006 feature Starter for 10, is playing the villain in Star Trek Into Darkness and appears with Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender in Twelve Years a Slave. He is also appearing in The Weinstein Co.’s adaptation of August: Osage County, where he will play Meryl Streep’s nephew.
He is repped by UTA and John Grant at Conway Van Gelder Grant in the U.K.
McGuigan, repped by WME, Generate and the U.K.’s Curtis Brown Group, is attached to direct Fox’s untitled Frankenstein project and directed the 2009 Chris Evans action thriller Push.