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Julie Walters, Colin Firth

Colin Firth and Julie Walters are set to star in a new version of The Secret Garden from Heyday Films and Studiocanal, who previously collaborated on Paddington.

The script from Jack Thorne (the Harry Potter And The Cursed Child play, Wonder) is based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 classic novel, but moves the story from the Edwardian era to 1947, on the eve of Partition in India, and in the aftermath of WW2 in Britain.

Director Marc Munden is known for his TV work, including National Treasure which won him a best drama Bafta, The Mark Of Cain, The Devil’s Whore and Utopia.

Producing is David Heyman (Harry Potter, Gravity, Paddington) and Rosie Alison (The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, Paddington) with Jane Robertson (Bridget Jones’s Baby, Breathe) co-producing. Didier Lupfer, Danny Perkins and Dan MacRae exec produce for Studiocanal.

Shooting begins in the UK on Monday.

Studiocanal developed the film, is fully financing and will distribute in the UK, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. It will start world sales at this year’s Marché du Film in Cannes.

Other cast includes Dixie Egerickx (Genius, The Little Stranger) in the lead role of Mary, Edan Hayhurst (Genius, It Would Change Everything) playing her sickly cousin Colin, Amir Wilson (The Kid Who Would Be King) as Dickon and Isis Davis (Guilt, Electric Dreams) as Martha.

Marc Munden said: “This is a fantastical reimagining of The Secret Garden: I can’t wait to explore it. It’s an opportunity to immerse ourselves in an uncanny and wondrous world, which will play to the imaginations of adults and children alike.”