Sony Pictures Classics has set a March 25 theatrical release date for The Duke, directed by the late Roger Michell. The film starring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren will open in theaters in New York and Los Angeles before expanding in the following weeks. The dramedy is currently playing at the Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles for a one-week awards qualifying run through Dec. 16.
The Duke is set in 1961, when Kempton Bunton, a 60-year old taxi driver, stole Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London. It was the first (and remains the only) theft in the Gallery’s history. Kempton sent ransom notes saying that he would return the painting on condition that the government agreed to provide television for free to the elderly. What happened next became the stuff of legend. Only 50 years later did the full story emerge – a startling revelation of how a good man set out to change the world and in so doing saved his son and his marriage.
With screenplay by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman, it’s produced by Nicky Bentham and executive produced by Cameron McCracken and Jenny Borgars for Pathé, Andrea Scarso for Ingenious Media, Hugo Heppell for Screen Yorkshire, Peter Scarf, and Christopher Bunton. It played at the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals.
It is the final film from Michell, who passed away in September.