Ron Howard has begun shooting on the dramatic tale of the rivalry between 1970s Formula 1 icons James Hunt and Niki Lauda starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl.

Exclusive Films International has virtually finished pre-sales on the project and Universal Pictures, which has a three-year distribution deal with Cross Creek, will handle the North American release.

Exclusive and Cross Creek are co-financing and producing in association with Imagine Entertainment. Working Title Films, Brian Grazer and Revolution Films are also producing.

Peter Morgan wrote the screenplay and Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara round out the key cast. Production will take place in the UK, Germany and Austria.

Andrew Eaton, Eric Fellner, Howard (pictured shooting footage in Europe during during pre-production), Grazer, Morgan and Brian Oliver produce and Exclusive Media co-chairman and CEO Nigel Sinclair, Cross Creek Pictures and Todd Hallowell are the executive producers.

“Lauda and Hunt were rock stars of the race track: two absolute pros at the top of their game, in a time when sex was safe, driving was dangerous and all bets were off,” Howard said. “They were also complicated, fascinating men and born rivals. Rush will be as much about that personal rivalry as it will be about the thrill of the race.”

“With a dream team of director Ron Howard and screenwriter Peter Morgan behind the wheel — and a cast that includes some of the hottest young actors working in movies today — Rush promises to capture the true glamour, speed, sex appeal and risk of Formula 1 as it has never been seen before,” Sinclair said. “It will be an adrenalin-fuelled exploration of human rivalry and emotion set against the backdrop of fashion and music in the ’70s.”

“Ron’s gift as a director is his ability to inhabit extraordinarily complex characters and grasp their essential humanity,” Cross Creek president Oliver said. “With Chris and Daniel as our leads, I’m confident that the compelling story of Hunt and Lauda’s infamous rivalry will be told as never before.”