W.E. is a curious project. The romantic drama is the feature directorial debut of Madonna — in accordance with Blond Ambition, the narrative is split into two parts by more than six decades. In 1998, Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish) obsesses over her vision of the ideal romance between King Edward VIII (James D’Arcy) and Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough). I suppose the conceit is not too far removed from Julie & Julia, but W.E. feels decidedly less commercial. The Weinstein Company believes in the film and its director, though, and today acquired the U.S. distribution rights for release later in 2011. Hit the jump for the announcement details, including an official synopsis.
First up, the synopsis:
W.E. tells the story of two fragile but determined women – Wally Winthrop and Wallis Simpson – separated by more than six decades. In 1998, lonely New Yorker Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish) is obsessed with what she perceives as the ultimate love story: King Edward’s VIII’s abdication of the British throne for the woman he loved, American divorcée Wallis Simpson. But Wally’s research, including several visits to the Sotheby’s auction of the Windsor Estate, reveals that the couple’s life together was not as perfect as she thought. Weaving back and forth in time, W.E. intertwines Wally’s journey of discovery in New York with the story of Wallis (Andrea Riseborough) and Edward (James D’Arcy), from the glamorous early days of their romance to the slow unraveling of their lives in the decades that followed.
The press release includes the typical “My partner in this venture is good at life” quotes, but to me, they carry more interest when the parties involved are Madonna and Harvey Weinstein.
The Weinstein Company acquires Madonna’s W.E. for U.S. Release
Abbie Cornish, James D’Arcy, Andrea Riseborough Star In Romantic Drama
Madonna’s Feature Film Directorial Debut
2011 Release Planned
New York, NY, June 13, 2011 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that it has acquired U.S. distribution rights to “W.E.,” Madonna’s directorial debut of a feature film. W.E. is a romantic drama co-written by Madonna and Alek Keshishian, produced by Madonna and Kris Thykier and executive produced by Scott Franklin (BLACK SWAN). It stars Abbie Cornish (LIMITLESS), Oscar Isaac (DRIVE), James D’Arcy (MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD), Andrea Riseborough (NEVER LET ME GO), Natalie Dormer (“The Tudors”), Richard Coyle (PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME), James Fox (SHERLOCK HOLMES) and Laurence Fox (“Inspector Lewis”). The announcement was made by TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein and President of Production Donna Gigliotti.
Spanning six decades, W.E. juxtaposes a contemporary love story with that of King Edward VIII and American divorcée Wallis Simpson.
“W.E. is about the nature of true love, and the sacrifices and compromises that are often made. I’ve wanted to tell this story for a very long time, and bringing it to life has been a great adventure for me. I’m looking forward to working with Harvey and The Weinstein Company on this film,” commented Madonna.
“Madonna has really come into her own as a filmmaker with W.E.,” said Weinstein. “She’s taken one of the most famous romances of the 20th Century and brought it to life in a smart, sexy and thoroughly modern way. It’s a terrific addition to our US release slate.”
Commented Gigliotti, “The advance footage for W.E. was some of the most impressive I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait for American audiences to have the opportunity to see this film.”
The deal was negotiated for TWC by Weinstein, COO David Glasser and Michal Steinberg, Senior Vice President Business Affairs and Acquisitions; and by CAA, on behalf of the filmmakers.