Edward Berger’s ‘Conclave,’ Starring Ralph Fiennes and John Lithgow, Acquired by Focus Features For U.S.

Edward Berger’s upcoming thriller “Conclave,” starring Ralph Fiennes and John Lithgow, has been acquired by Focus Features for U.S. distribution.

Directed by Berger and based on Robert Harris’ novel of the same name, it tells the story of the world’s most secretive event: election of a new Pope.

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The script was written by Peter Straughan.

Fiennes plays Cardinal Lawrence in the film, a Catholic dignitary tasked with running the Vatican’s mysterious papal conclave who finds himself trapped in a treasonous web as groups of ambitious rival cardinals form factions in the hope of swaying the vote.

“As ambitions, divisions and scandals start to boil over and the political machinations inside the Vatican intensify, Lawrence realizes that the departed Pope had kept a secret from them that he must uncover before a new Pope is chosen,” reads the logline.

Joining Fiennes and Lithgow in the feature are Stanley Tucci, Isabella Rossellini, Carlos Diehz, Lucian Msamati, Brían F. O’Byrne, Merab Ninidze and Sergio Castellitto.

House Productions and FilmNation Entertainment produced the film with Glen Basner, Alison Cohen, Milan Popelka, Ben Browning, Len Blavatnik, Danny Cohen, Zoe Edwards, Harry Dixon, Paul Randle, Tomas Alfredson, Edward Berger, Ralph Fiennes, Peter Straughan, Robyn Slovo, Mario Gianani and Lorenzo Gangarossa executive producing.

Tessa Ross and Juliette Howell produced for House Productions and Michael A. Jackman for FilmNation Entertainment alongside Robert Harris and Alice Dawson.

“Edward Berger is a devilishly talented filmmaker who made our collective hearts race by showing us what happens to our better angels in those Machiavellian halls of power,” said Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski. “We cannot wait to bring audiences to the edge of their seats with him and our friends at House Productions, Indian Paintbrush and FilmNation.”

Berger said: “27 years ago, I landed my first job as an intern at the company that later became Focus. Ever since I left and embarked on the long path of making movies I have been wanting to return. To now work with Peter Kujawski and his incredibly dedicated team feels like I have arrived at a home that I‘ve always missed. I am grateful and so cannot wait to share the movie with audiences in the U.S. as well as around the world at the hands of Focus and all our distribution partners.”

The film will also be released in Canada by Elevation, the U.K. by Black Bear, Italy by Eagle Pictures and Australia and New Zealand by Roadshow Films, among other territories. FilmNation Entertainment is repping international sales.

CAA Media Finance, FilmNation Entertainment and Indian Paintbrush handled the U.S. sale.

“Conclave” was developed Access Entertainment’s support. FilmNation Entertainment and Indian Paintbrush co-financed the film, with Steven Rales exec producing.

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