Benedict Cumberbatch is Tom Hazard

Benedict CumberbatchSunnyMarch and STUDIOCANAL have preempted the film rights to Matt Haig’s forthcoming novel, HOW TO STOP TIME.

Oscar and BAFTA nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch (THE IMITATION GAME, DOCTOR STRANGE) is attached to play the lead role and will Executive Produce through his SunnyMarch production company alongside Jamie Byng, CEO of Canongate Books. Canongate is publishing HOW TO STOP TIME in July 2017.

STUDIOCANAL is fully financing and will distribute in their territories, UK, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, and will be handling international sales.

The deal was negotiated between SunnyMarch’s Managing Director Adam Ackland who will produce the film and Nick Marston of Curtis Brown who brokered the deal on behalf of Matt Haig and Conville and Walsh.

How To Stop Time

HOW TO STOP TIME is the first adult novel in four years by Matt Haig, the number one bestselling author whose books have been translated into over thirty languages. It tells the story of Tom Hazard, a man who may look like an ordinary 41-year-old but, owing to an extremely rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. HOW TO STOP TIME is a wildly imagined love story that spans centuries and continents and cements Haig’s reputation as one of the most original and exciting novelists of his generation.

Matt Haig headshot (c) Kan Lailey
Matt Haig. Image © Kan Lailey

Matt Haig comments “The prospect of Benedict Cumberbatch playing Tom Hazard is a hugely exciting one and I could not be happier about working with Adam and Jamie, and to be reunited with STUDIOCANAL.

Adam Ackland adds, “We have been huge fans of Matt’s for a long time and always admired his wonderfully playful and deeply honest work. HOW TO STOP TIME delivers all of this and much much more…we are truly excited to be taking this on with such a talented team already in place.

STUDIOCANAL UK CEO Danny Perkins adds, “We are delighted to be continuing our successful relationship with Matt Haig as well as build upon our long-running and dynamic partnership with SunnyMarch, Benedict Cumberbatch and Adam Ackland. This compelling novel will make for a powerful film that falls in line with STUDIOCANAL’s ongoing commitment to British talent, storytelling and production. We look forward to bringing it to audiences around the world.”

Haig’s most recent children’s book, THE GIRL WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS, was published in late 2016 in over 20 countries and is the sequel to his critically acclaimed hit A BOY CALLED CHRISTMAS. The audiobook versions have been narrated by Stephen Fry and Carey Mulligan. STUDIOCANAL and Blueprint Pictures acquired screen rights to the series in 2015 and have been fast-tracking development of a feature film adaptation.

Haig’s other books include his ground-breaking memoir REASONS TO STAY ALIVE, which stayed in the Sunday Times’ top-ten bestseller list for 46 weeks and the multi-prize winning THE HUMANS that has been published all over the world. He also worked in a screenwriting capacity on Heyday Films and STUDIOCANAL’s 2014 critical and commercial smash PADDINGTON.

Benedict Cumberbatch was most recently seen by audiences in Marvel/Disney’s worldwide box office hit DOCTOR STRANGE with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton and Rachel McAdams and will reprise his role in THOR: RAGNAROK opposite Chris Hemworth, out in cinemas later this year and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, currently in production. Cumberbatch was OscarÒ and BAFTA nominated for his performance as Alan Turing in THE IMITATION GAME. His other upcoming projects include THE CURRENT WAR and Andy Serkis’ THE JUNGLE BOOK.