StudioCanal and Benedict Cumberbatch label SunnyMarch are to make six part TV series How To Stop Time, based on Matt Haig’s bestselling novel. The production was announced today at Mip TV in Cannes.

DC Moore (Sky/AMC’s Mary & George) is attached to write with Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Let The Right One In) attached to direct. It will star Benedict Cumberbatch (Patrick Melrose, The Courier) in the lead role as Tom Hazard.

How to Stop Time will shoot in London and Europe next year, 2024.

Haig’s book is a genre-bending, globe-trotting thriller, high-stakes romance and superhero narrative about time. It explores the lives of men and women who live for hundreds and hundreds of years, suffering from a very rare condition called anageria…

Throughout history they have been feared, misunderstood, and persecuted and had to live entirely in the shadows in order to survive. Born in 15th Century France, time and time again Tom Hazard  has lost everything because of his condition.

But he hasn’t entirely given up. He’s still alive today, nearly 600 years later. He is caught in the middle of a secret war, which has been fought by those with anageria for centuries. They have formed underground groups to survive. Somewhere between intelligence networks, and a mafia clan, to protect themselves from the outside world. And from each other. Tom is an operative in one of these networks, who recruits others like him to their cause.

How to Stop Time reunites StudioCanal with Adam Ackland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Marshall and Leah Clarke at SunnyMarch, and with Cumberbatch, Tomas Alfredson and Robyn Slovo, having worked together on 2011’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. The project also reunites StudioCanal with Haig following the Gil Kenan’s feature film A Boy Called Christmas in 2021.

StudioCanal is in active development on Haig’s novel The Midnight Library which has sold over seven million copies.

Benedict Cumberbatch comments “When I first read How to Stop Time, the potential of this story was immediately obvious. In his inimitable style, Matt once again explores what it is to be human and what it is to live a life – a very long one in this case – with pathos, insight, humour, drama and inspiration. I am so thrilled to be reuniting with Tomas Alfredson who is the perfect person to capture the scale, tension, and sense of humour alive in DC Moore’s adaptation.”

Tomas Alfredson expands “We all know that time is something absolute, like silence or darkness or the speed of light. But describing or witnessing it seems as flexible as taste, beauty or politics. I guess this is why Matt Haig’s How to Stop Time is so compelling. It’s a fantastic essential condition for a TV-series to have a main character that doesn’t age and all the possibilities that offers. DC Moore has written a fantastic script and to have the forever young Benedict Cumberbatch to play Tom Hazard is nothing less than congenial.”

DC Moore notes “Matt Haig’s brilliant book was a joy to adapt for the screen, as it is such an epic, unpredictable, and deeply humane story. It’s beyond exciting to be working with artists of the incredible calibre of Benedict Cumberbatch and Tomas Alfredson to bring this story to the screen, and give it all the ambition, craft and heart it so richly deserves.”

Matt Haig adds “Benedict Cumberbatch is the dream person to play Tom Hazard and was always who I pictured in my mind. And Tomas Alfredson is the ideal director for this story. The whole team is incredible, and it is so great to feel a story is in the best possible hands.”

StudioCanal CEO Anna Marsh concludes “We are delighted to be reuniting with our friends and long term collaborators, Tomas, Benedict, Matt, Robyn and the team at SunnyMarch, and to now also be working with DC Moore on this hugely exciting and ambitious new series. We were immediately captivated when we read Matt’s novel, which DC Moore has adapted masterfully, and to now have Benedict starring as Tom Hazard and Tomas directing the show is a wonderful combination. We can’t get wait to get started.”

StudioCanal EVP Global Production Ron Halpern and SVP Global Production Joe Naftalin executive produce and are overseeing for StudioCanal.

Robyn Slovo (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) is series producer alongside Benedict Cumberbatch, Adam Ackland, Claire Marshall and Leah Clarke for SunnyMarch (Patrick Melrose, The Child in Time). DC Moore, Tomas Alfredson, Matt Haig, & Jamie Byng executive produce.

SunnyMarch is an independent TV and Film production company founded by Adam Ackland and Benedict Cumberbatch. Since launching the banner, SunnyMarch TV have co-produced limited series Patrick Melrose for Showtime and Sky, and an adaptation of Ian McEwan’s The Child in Time for BBC One and PBS Masterpiece. On the Film side, SunnyMarch have released  The Mauritanian, The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, and The Courier, and are currently in production on Mahalia Belo’s The End We Start From starring Jodie Comer, and John Crowley’s We Live in Time starring Florence Pugh and Andrew Garfield.

StudioCanal is an associate of SunnyMarch TV.

StudioCanal produces its series directly (such as Paddington) and through its network of  European production companies, including StudioCanal Series GmbH (Shadowplay) and Lailaps Films (Shadows of the Past) in Germany, the UK’s Red Production Company (Stay Close, It’s a Sin, Years and Years) and Urban Myth Films (War of the Worlds, Extinction), Spain’s Bambú Producciones (Two Lives, Jaguar, Cable Girls) and France’s StudioCanal Original (Nine Women, About Last Night, Mouche) and Danish- based SAM Productions founded by Søren Sveistrup and Adam Price (The Chestnut Man, Ride Upon The Storm).

Pippa Considine

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