The Benedict Cumberbatch movie Ironbark, which debuted to strong reviews at Sundance, has been retitled The Courier and will be released in theaters on Aug. 28 by Lionsgate and sister company Roadside Attractions, it was announced Wednesday.
Dominic Cooke (On Chesil Beach) directed the Cold War spy thriller, which co-stars Rachel Brosnahan, Jessie Buckley and Georgian actor Merab Ninidze.
Tom O’Connor (The Hitman’s Bodyguard) wrote the script, which tells the true story of an unassuming British businessman named Greville Wynne (Cumberbatch), who was recruited into one of the greatest international conflicts in history. At the behest of the UK’s MI-6 and a CIA operative (Brosnahan), Wynne forms a covert, dangerous partnership with Soviet officer Oleg Penkovsky (Ninidze) in an effort to provide crucial intelligence needed to prevent a nuclear confrontation and defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The film was produced by Adam Ackland, Ben Browning, Ben Pugh and Rory Aitken, and executive produced by Leah Clarke, Ashley Fox, Glen Basner, Alison Cohen, Milan Popelka and Josh Varney, as well as Cumberbatch, Cooke and O’Connor. The production also boasts cinematography from Sean Bobbitt, who shot 12 Years a Slave and The Place Beyond the Pines, as well as an original score from Abel Korzeniowski (A Single Man).
“Theaters have indicated gradual openings this summer, with health and safety guiding the way. If everything proceeds favorably, we feel the true spy thriller The Courier, with a must-see performance by Benedict Cumberbatch, is just the type of film that will have audiences excited to return to their local cinemas in late August,” Roadside co-presidents Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff said in a joint statement.
Cumberbatch was nominated for an Oscar for 2015’s The Imitation Game, but to be honest, I think anyone who played Alan Turing in that film was probably destined for a nomination. The Courier is a different kind of movie, but legitimate or not, it earned Cumberbatch awards buzz coming out of Sundance, where naturally, I failed to see it. Of course, things have changed since January, and while a late August release doesn’t scream “contender” to me, the mere fact that this film is getting a theatrical release at all in the current climate speaks to the studios’ confidence in the material. Still, this is aimed at older, upscale audiences, and those may be the last people to return to theaters once restrictions lift.
As for the title change, I’d say it’s pretty negligible, as neither one is great. Oh well! What’s in a name anyway? Cumberbatch isn’t a great name for a movie star, but I’d say he’s doing just fine. For more on The Courier, click here to watch our interview with Brosnahan, Ninidze and Cooke, and click here for our review out of Sundance.