EFM Hot Package: Steve Coogan Stars In Peter Cattaneo-Helmed ‘The Penguin Lessons’

Unique, steve coogan ready to act in penguin lessonsTogether the full monty‘S Peter Cattaneo to direct Jeff Pope– Scripted adaptation of the Tom Mitchell non-fiction bestseller.

Management/production company 42 partners Rory Atkin and Ben Pugh will produce with Robert Walleck. Rocket Science is handling international sales and will present the film at EFM with CAA Media Finance taking over the US distribution rights.

The Penguin Lessons is the true story of a frustrated Englishman who goes to work in a school in Argentina in 1976. Expecting an easy ride, he instead discovered a complex and divided nation—and a class of practically uneducated young boys. When he finds a little penguin washed up on an oil-stained beach, his life is turned upside down – and the penguin turns out to be not only a valuable friend, but a source of life for Tom, the boys, and many others. He also becomes the teacher of the most important lessons.

“From the moment we read Tom Mitchell’s book, we were captivated by the true story of the unlikely bond between a man and a penguin,” said 42 partners Aitken and Pugh. “Jeff Pope, master of true story adaptation for the screen, has penned an enchanting screenplay that sets a backdrop of political upheaval and conflict that Tom must navigate with his feathered companion. The greatest we’re working with today.” Couldn’t imagine anyone better to play the lead than one of the actors, Steve Coogan, and of course the brilliant Oscar-nominated director Peter Cattaneo, with whom we’re thrilled to be working again.

Cattaneo said he pitched the story to “the interior setting of Argentine political struggle in the late 70s and the unlikely bond of a man with a penguin in his heart”.

Coogan and longtime collaborator Jeff Pope first teamed up on Philomena, directed by Stephen Frears, and then on The Lost King and To Catch a King. Coogan said he was “delighted to be working with Jeff, Pete and 42 on a story about fascism, love and penguins!”

Coogan most recently played serial sex offender Jimmy Savile in the controversial BBC One drama The Reckoning and can next be heard in Despicable Me 4 for Universal Pictures. In addition to The Full Monty, Cattaneo’s films include Opal Dream, The Rocker and The Military Wives of Bleecker Street with Sharon Horgan and Kristin Scott Thomas. In television, Cattaneo directed Anna Paquin in the Amazon Original flick The Magpie Murders starring Leslie Manville, and the Paramount+ series The Flatshare, the latter produced by 42.

Rocket Science adds to an EFM slate that includes Alex Winter’s The Adults, starring Evan Rachel Wood, Josh Gad, and Anthony Carrigan; Chloe Bailey, Tosin Cole, Olivia Colman and Woody Harrelson in Conor Macpherson’s Girl from the North Country; Michael Gracie’s Better Man; and Peter Farrell’s Ricky Stanicki starring Zac Efron and John Cena which was recently acquired by Amazon Prime.

Coogan has been replaced by CAA and the Independent Talent Group. Cattaneo is replaced by UTA and 42. Pope has been replaced by WME and United Agents.