Mat Whitecross to Direct ‘Sleeping Lions’ Next

BAFTA-nominated filmmaker Mat Whitecross is returning to feature filmmaking after over a decade! The director will helm ‘Sleeping Lions,’ a modern film adaptation of Cyril Hare’s 1951 detective novel, ‘An English Murder.’ In alignment with its source material, shooting for the movie will take place in the United Kingdom, where its isolated countryside backdrop will be recreated.

The Golden Age detective novel’s timeless intrigue is combined with screenwriter James Roblin’s contemporary suspense. Set against the picturesque backdrop of a snowbound English country estate on Christmas Eve, the stage is set for a holiday gathering to remember—or to forget. As thick snow blankets Warbeck Hall, cutting off all communication with the outside world, a diverse group of guests find themselves trapped in the sprawling mansion. Among them are a scorned young lover, a lord’s overlooked cousin, a socially ambitious politician’s wife, a foreign history professor, and a faithful butler.

As the narrative progresses, when the clock strikes midnight, the joyous holiday atmosphere is shattered by the discovery of a gruesome murder. With a killer lurking among them, paranoia grips the stranded guests as they scramble to uncover the truth behind the crime. The isolated setting of a snowed-in country house promises a gripping ambiance as its magnificent halls now seem to hide a malignant killer around every corner.

Whitecross is an English movie and music video director. His latest works include ‘The Sound of 007,’ a documentary about the changing dynamics of the ‘James Bond’ music; Sky’s ‘This England,’ a documentary focusing on Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government’s actions during the COVID-19 pandemic; and ‘Coldplay: Beautiful.’ He won multiple accolades for his 2006 docudrama ‘The Road to Guantanamo,’ including the Berlin International Film Festival’s Best Director award and a BAFTA nomination for Best Single Drama. The Riz Ahmed-starrer war drama revolves around three British Muslims who were held in Guantanamo Bay before being released after two years without ever being charged with any crime. His most recent feature is the 2012 mystery thriller ‘Ashes.’

‘Sleeping Lions’ puts a modern spin on the classic by Cyril Hare, the pen name of Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark, a prominent English barrister, judge, and prolific author of detective fiction during the mid-20th century. Hare’s works are often celebrated for their classic whodunit style, characterized by clever mysteries and a keen sense of British wit and humor. His novels frequently feature legal settings or protagonists with legal backgrounds, reflecting his own expertise in the field. Written in 1951, ‘An English Murder’ remains a beloved genre classic and was adapted into a 1955 play titled ‘The House of Warbeck.’

The UK is currently home to several long-awaited upcoming films and shows. The filming of ‘Sonic 4’ is slated to commence in the region early next year. Disney’s ‘The Mandalorian’ spin-off, ‘The Mandalorian & Grogu,’ begins filming in June 2024. Another film from the ‘Star Wars’ universe, ‘Lando,’ is expected to begin shooting in the first quarter of 2025. Netflix’s upcoming Harlan Coben Series, ‘Run Away,’ is set to shoot in the fall of 2024.

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