The Nightingale Fanning sisters

Dakota and Elle Fanning have acted in the same movies before, lending their voices to the English dubs of My Neighbor Totoro and appearing in I Am Sam when they were very young. But now actress/director Mélanie Laurent will bring the sisters together in a major way in her newest film, The Nightingale, an adaptation of author Kristin Hannah’s bestselling World War II novel from 2015. Get the details below.

Originally set to be the theatrical feature film debut of Michelle MacLaren (Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and tons of other TV shows), The Nightingale was once slotted to hit theaters in August 2018 before getting bumped to January 2019. That obviously didn’t happen – MacLaren left the project for unknown reasons but Laurent has swooped in instead to keep the project alive, and Deadline now reports that her film will receive a theatrical release on December 25, 2020.

The book’s official synopsis says The Nightingale tells the stories of “two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France,” and Deadline says the story was “inspired by the courageous women of the French Resistance who helped downed Allied airmen escape Nazi-occupied territory and hid Jewish children.”

Laurent has some cinematic history with this time period: she’s still perhaps best known for her starring role in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. And she also has some history with one of the Fanning sisters. She directed Elle Fanning in the 2018 movie Galveston, which was written by True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto. Dana Stevens (City of Angels, For the Love of the Game, Life or Something Like It, Safe Haven) wrote The Nightingale‘s screenplay.

A Christmas release puts The Nightingale up against some tough competition. It’ll be going head to head against Steven Spielberg’s highly-anticipated remake of West Side Story, Denis Villeneuve’s take on the sci-fi classic Dune, a Paul Greengrass-directed film called News of the World starring Tom Hanks, Ridley Scott’s historical thriller The Last Duel (which has Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Adam Driver, and Jodie Comer in the cast), DreamWorks Animation’s cavemen follow-up The Croods 2, and the Chris Pratt-starring sci-fi film The Tomorrow War. But Sony found success with this same slot last year with Little Women, another female-led period piece, so clearly the hope is to replicate that once again.

I wonder if Sony will bother changing the title since The Babadook director Jennifer Kent just directed an acclaimed thriller of the same name that was released last year. Stay tuned.

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