Australian state and federal organisations are to provide finance for Winchester, a supernatural thriller to be directed by filmmaking brothers Peter and Michael Spierig.
Production will start in Melbourne, Australia in early 2017 with Helen Mirren in the role of Sarah Winchester, millionaire heiress to the Winchester Arms fortune who designed and built the renowned Winchester Mystery House.
The film was confirmed Monday as being on course to receive 'production investment' finance from national film industry regulator and financier Screen Australia. It will also receive support from Film Victoria's Production Incentive Attraction Fund and Production Investment from Screen Queensland.
The film is produced by Blacklab Entertainment's Tim McGahan (the Spierigs' Predestination) and Imagination Design Works' Brett Tomberlin. Australian/NZ distributor is StudioCanal. International sales are handled by Diamond Pictures and Bullitt Entertainment. U.S. distribution is confirmed via CBS Films. It was previously set up at the U.K.'s Hammer Films.
After the sudden deaths of her husband and child, firearm heiress Sarah Winchester (Mirren) believed she was haunted by the souls killed at the hands of the Winchester repeating rifle. She threw herself into the 24-hour a day, seven days a week construction of an enormous 160-room mansion designed to keep the evil spirits at bay. But when skeptical San Francisco psychiatrist Eric Price is dispatched to the estate to evaluate her state of mind, he discovers that her obsession may not be so insane after all.
"There have been few haunted house stories that have captured our imaginations quite like the legend of the Winchester House," said the Spierig brothers in a prepared statement.
"Films like Winchester telegraph to the international market the breadth of films that can be made in Australia, using not only our locations but our creative and producing talent," said Graeme Mason, CEO of Screen Australia.