The studio, which has several other high-profile films on their slate including the upcoming romantic comedy, Baggage Claim, the musical drama, Black Nativity and another heralded period drama, Twelve Years A Slave, has added another jewel to their distribution crown with Asante’s film. Fox Searchlight secured both the North American and UK rights for the story.
“The experience and sensibilities of the team at Fox Searchlight make it a wonderful match for Belle,” said Asante. “I am so pleased their passion for this film means it now has the ability to be seen by audiences worldwide. We’ve worked hard to turn historical facts of the life of a true pioneer into a compelling and moving cinema experience.”
Belle takes place in the 1780s, and is based on a true story – specifically, the true story of Dido Belle, a mixed-race woman raised as an aristocrat in 18th-century England. It follows Belle, adopted into an aristocratic family, who faces class and color prejudices. As she blossoms into a young woman, she develops a relationship with a vicar’s son who is an advocate for slave emancipation.
Born Dido Elizabeth Belle in 1761, she was the illegitimate daughter of John Lindsay (a white British Naval officer) and an African slave woman known only as Belle. She died in 1804. It stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Miranda Richardson, Tom Wilkinson, Sarah Gadon, Sam Claflin, and Matthew Goode. Mbatha-Raw will play the lead role.
Written by Misan Sagay, Belle also co-stars Tom Felton (Harry Potter franchise), Sam Reid (playing Belle’s love interest), James Norton and Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey).
Belle is set an early 2014 release.