Headline’s slate also includes Dustin Hoffman’s Quartet, The Recycler, and The Drivers.

Ralph Fiennes has been confirmed as director of The Invisible Woman, the £12m Abi Morgan-scripted adaptation of Claire Tomalin’s book, The Invisible Woman: The Story Of Nelly Ternan And Charles Dickens. The film, which will be Fiennes’ second directorial feature after Coriolanus, will shoot next spring.

The Invisible Woman is being made by Stewart Mackinnon’s Headline Pictures and will be co-produced by Gaby Tana from Magnolia Mae Films. The film is also backed by BBC Films. The project was developed with BBC Films and the UK Film Council/BFI. A sales agent will be announced shortly.

Fiennes is currently casting the film and it isn’t yet confirmed whether he will take an acting role, as he did with Coriolanus. The Invisible Woman tells the story of the love affair between novelist Dickens, at the height of his powers, and the actress Ellen Ternan. This love affair was kept secret by Dickens’ friends and associates, and Ternan’s story was thereby written out of history.

The plan is to have the film ready for late 2012 and thereby to fit within the celebrations of the Dickens bicentenary. Mackinnon is at pains to point out the film is not a Dickens adaptation or biopic, although it unfolds at the time Dickens was writing some of his major works.

“It is a very exciting project. Ralph has brought a vision and ambition for the storytelling of this kind of costume drama which is bigger than your normal intimate storytelling,” commented Mackinnon.

The Invisible Woman is one of a number of major film and TV drama projects with an international focus from Headline Pictures (formed in 2006) that are inching ever closer to production.

“We are now, after these five years of developing, having come on stream a steady flow of projects,” Mackinnon said.

Another Headline title, Dustin Hoffman’s Quartet (sold by HanWay) is now set to start shooting on Sept 12. This stars Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay.

Headline is also developing a “green” comedy-thriller, The Recycler, which is being scripted by Jed Mercurio and is developed with financing from UK Film Council/BFI, Summit Entertainment and Participant Media. It’s about a hitman on the track of “people responsible for environmental damage.”

Meanwhile, Michael Hirst (The Tudors, Elizabeth) is attached to write The Drivers, the adaptation of the Shelby: The Man, The Cars, the Legend which Headline is developing as a $45 million TV drama series in partnership with Scott Free Productions and Sennett Entertainment for FremantleMedia. This tells the true story of wild young drivers from the US, Germany, France, Italy and Britain, friends and rivals, amateurs risking everything for a shot on the tracks. Due to shoot next year, this will be a 13-part series.

Also in development with Scott Free for BBC Television and FreemantleMedia is TV drama series, The Man In The High Castle, which will see Ridley Scott directing a Philip K. Dick story for the first time since Blade Runner. Noted playwright Howard Brenton is scripting the eight-part drama which will comprise of two four-part series.

Ridley Scott is also directing Reykjavik, the Cold War drama about the Reagan/Gorbachev Summit of 1986 that Headline is developing with Participant Media along with Scott Free Productions and Mark Sennet Entertainment.

Meanwhile, Rachel Bernette has come on board to write a new draft of the screenplay for Alec And May, a love story that Peter Mullan was originally attached to direct.

Paul King (Bunny And The Bull) is at work on the screenplay for Peter Pan sequel, Peter Pan In Scarlet.

Earlier this year, Headline announced that Christian Baute (ex-Celluloid Dreams) had joined the company as Head Of Production. 

Baute is expected to strengthen further Headline’s European connections. “With Christian’s support and expertise, the company is looking to Europe,” Mackinnon commented.

The Headline boss also revealed that the company plans to develop movie spin-offs from many of its TV dramas.