Universal Pictures has prevailed in a studio bidding war, picking up world rights to the drama By The Sea that will mark the first time Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have starred together since Mr. & Mrs. Smith in 2007.

Jolie will write and direct the film, cementing her relationship with the studio, which has set a December 25 US release for her likely awards season contender Unbroken. That film is in post.

Both Jolie and Pitt will produce By The Sea, which the studio has described as an “intimate, character-driven drama.”

“I am very happy to continue my relationship with Donna [Langley, Universal Pictures chairman] and the entire Universal team as I finish Unbroken and begin work on By The Sea,” said Jolie, who made her feature directorial debut on In The Land Of Blood And Honey.

“They have created a very special place for story-tellers, and I look forward to the continued passion and support they have provided to me as a film-maker.”

“Angelina continues to showcase her extraordinary storytelling abilities in front of and behind the camera and we are thrilled to extend our relationship with her on By The Sea,” said Langley. 

“Angelina and Brad represent two of Hollywood’s brightest talents and we are excited to be a part of their collaboration on this powerful piece.”