If you know the story of the Winchester Mystery House, you’ve probably wondered why there isn’t a big-budget movie about it yet. Vengeful spirits, labyrinthine corridors, doors and stairways leading to nowhere – it has all the makings of a great supernatural thriller.
Well, surprise! It’s time. We are getting a Winchester House movie. The supernatural thriller will be directed by Michael and Peter Spierig (Daybreakers, Predestination) and stars Academy Award winner Dame Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester. The brothers will also write the screenplay with Tom Vaughan.
Sarah was the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester, making her heir to the bloody fortune. She believed she was cursed by the spirits of the gun’s victims and consulted a medium who advised her to move to San Jose. In 1884 she began the 38-year project that is the Winchester mansion – a 24,000-square-foot, 160-room Gothic puzzle – with the aim of confusing the evil spirits that she believed were haunting her. Time Magazine has called the house one of the “Most Haunted Places in the World.”
You can, of course, take tours of the house. But there’s something about getting that insight into the story of the mansion that leaves a lot of room for fun spooks and thrills.
Thanks to the Spierig brothers, it looks like we’re finally getting that story. Deadline reports that the film was developed by Imagination Design Works, which owns the rights to the house and is squarely involved, meaning the film will be the first to shoot in the actual house. This is great because – as with the Parisian catacombs of As Above, So Below – that’s an atmosphere that cannot be recreated on a sound stage.
The film will also star Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty), Sarah Snook (Jessabelle) and Angus Sampson (Insidious). CBS films has acquired the U.S. distribution rights. As reported by Variety, CBS Films exec Scott Shooman says:
“We were immediately obsessed with the Spierig brothers intelligent and twisted take on a great American legend and could not be more excited to be working with the Spierig brothers and Dame Helen Mirren to bring this film to audiences”
The film is financed by Bullitt Entertainment, Diamond Pictures and Blacklab Entertainment, with Diamond Pictures handling international sales. Bullitt’s Benedict Carver, Diamond’s Daniel Diamond and Tobin Armbrust are executive producing. Andy Trapani, Toni Lianos, Brian Gilbert, Marc Shipper and Simon Oakes also will serve as executive producers.
Production has begun in Melbourne, Australia and will move to San Jose to film in the house.