'The Canterville Ghost': Release Date, Trailer, Cast, and Everything We Know So Far
The Otises ain't afraid of no ghost.
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After entering production over a decade ago, the latest animated adaptation of The Canterville Ghost is set to hit the big screen this Halloween. Based on Oscar Wilde 's short story of the same title, the movie follows the titular ghost as he recruits a brave young girl, Virginia Otis, to free him from an eternal curse. Promising comedy and kid-friendly spookiness in equal measure, The Canterville Ghost looks to be a great Halloween watch for people of all ages. Keep reading to find out everything we know so far about The Canterville Ghost .
Following its release in the United Kingdom and Ireland on September 22, 2023, The Canterville Ghost will be released theatrically across the United States on October 31, 2023 - right in time for a Halloween family movie night. Regarding when and where The Canterville Ghost will be available to stream, it was recently reported that the movie is set for a "strategic rollout across multiple platforms" . The Canterville Ghost's United States distributors - Blue Fox Entertainment and Shout! Studios - leads us to speculate that the movie will likely be available on Prime Video or Apple TV+ when the time comes, joining a vast collection of Blue Fox movies on these platforms.
Set to hit screens this fall, The Canterville Ghost is an animated comedy perfect for those wanting to indulge in the upcoming spooky season without the scares. The movie centers on the quirky ghost of Sir Simon de Canterville, cursed to roam his sprawling castle for centuries. To free himself from his endless boredom, Canterville must find a courageous human willing to perform a brave deed. Cue Virginia Otis, a curious and unshakable American who moves into the castle with her family. When Canterville fails to scare the Otises away, he's pleased to realize that Virginia could be the key to his long-awaited freedom. Together, the unlikely pair must outwit The Ghost Catcher and The Reverend to bring peace to the household once and for all.
Signature Entertainment released a trailer for The Canterville Ghost on their official YouTube channel in August 2023. Among the hilarious collection of scenes, it's revealed that every previous owner of the Canterville castle was scared away by the titular ghost. However, the new owners Mr. and Mrs. Otis aren't phased by this news and vow that they're "here to stay" - to the disappointment of their teenage daughter Virginia, who admittedly hates her strange new home. This all changes when Virginia discovers the spirit of Sir Canterville is never far away, and comes to learn that her new adventure might be more fun than she first expected. Spooky, chaotic, and fun, it seems The Canterville Ghost might just cement itself as one of the best family-friendly Halloween movies of 2023.
The Canterville Ghost is adapted for the screen from the legendary poet and playwright Oscar Wilde's children's short story of the same title. First published in the British literary magazine The Court and Society Review in 1887, The Canterville Ghost has since been adapted into movie, television, and radio format several times. The first of these movies was a Hollywood blockbuster in 1944, starring Charles Laughton in the title role. Following this came a Soviet animated movie in 1970, a Bollywood movie in 2008, and a French-Belgian movie in 2016. 2023's The Canterville Ghost began production over a decade ago, with a first look revealed in 2014 and an initial 2016 release date planned. The movie was subject to unprecedented delays, but fans will finally see it join an impressive legacy this fall.
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The Canterville Ghost features an all-star cast of actors from across the pond including Stephen Fry ( The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ) as Sir Simon de Canterville, Freddie Highmore ( Bates Motel ) as The Duke of Cheshire, Hugh Laurie ( House M.D. ) as The Grim Reaper, Toby Jones ( Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy ) as The Reverend Chasuble, Imelda Staunton ( Harry Potter ) as housekeeper Mrs. Umney, and Miranda Hart ( Spy ) as The Ghost Catcher. Starring as the Otis family are Meera Syal ( Yesterday ) and David Harewood ( Supergirl ) as Lucretia and Hiram, alongside Emily Carey ( House of the Dragon ) as their daughter Virginia. Also in the cast is Jules de Jongh ( Johnny English Strikes Again ) as twins Louis and Kent Otis, Keiron Self ( My Family ) as Lord Monroe, Georgia Small ( A Christmas Number One ) as Marjorie Fairfax, and Elizabeth Sankey ( Lucky Fred ) as Eleanor de Canterville.
As well as starring as Lord Monroe, Keiron Self wrote The Canterville Ghost alongside Giles New ( Pirates of the Caribbean ). The movie is directed by Kim Burdon ( Fireman Sam ) and Robert Chandler ( The Deep ). Executive producers include Bob Benton ( The Call Up ), Paul Cummins ( Tutenstein ), Paul Grindey ( The Father ), Jerry Hibbert ( Heavy Metal ), P. Jayakumar ( Wolverine and the X-Men ), Nadia Khamlichi ( Mandy ), Nessa McGill ( Good Luck to You, Leo Grande ), Charles Moore ( The Eagle ), Edward Noeltner ( Numb ), Hilary Strong ( Murder on the Orient Express ), and Stephen Fry, who also stars as Sir Simon de Canterville. Music by Craig Stuart Garfinkle ( The Muppet Christmas Carol ), and Eimear Noone ( Two by Two: Overboard! ).
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The Canterville Ghost: Oscar Wilde’s ghost story gets new life in this funny and stylish animated adaptation
Professor of Modern English and American Literature, University College Dublin
Nicholas Daly does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
University College Dublin provides funding as a member of The Conversation EUROPE.
University College Dublin provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.
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Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost feels quite ghostly itself, doomed to walk the earth through its many adaptations. There have been at least 14 television versions, the most recent in 2021 , and it has not been long since cinemagoers encountered director Yann Samuell’s French-Belgian version, Le Fantôme de Canterville (2016).
Yet Oscar Wilde’s comic ghost story of 1887 was something of a late developer in this respect. While there was a comic opera in 1905 ( Das Gespenst von Matschatsch ) and a Spanish play in 1929 ( El Fantasma de Canterville ), no film version appeared until MGM’s loosely-adapted 1944 production .
The film took the rather unlikely path of turning Wilde’s lighthearted Victorian fantasy into a wartime tale of a cowardly soldier (Robert Young) finding his courage, aided by the ghost (Charles Laughton) and child star Margaret O’Brien.
Perhaps adaptations were slow because Wilde’s story seemed very much of its time. The Canterville Ghost owes something to the America v Britain comedy of Tom Taylor’s play, Our American Cousin (1858) that sees a rich American try to mix with British aristocrats.
Its main inspiration, though, was the many Victorian magazine stories in which the new inhabitants of old houses encounter troubled spirits. Peace is restored when some past wrong has been righted, often with the discovery of the ghost’s earthly remains.
Wilde imagined a somewhat different scenario. An American family, the Otises, buy Canterville Chase. The house is haunted by a 17th-century spectre, Sir Simon de Canterville. Having murdered his wife, and been killed in turn by her family, his lot is to haunt the corridors of the manor house until a prophecy is fulfilled.
But, in fact, it is the modern Americans who bedevil Sir Simon. They laugh off his horror routines, treat the house’s mysterious bloodstains with Pinkerton’s Champion Stain Remover and offer him Tammany Rising Sun Lubricator to quieten the clanking of his chains.
The boisterous young Otis twins make his life a misery until their kindhearted sister Virginia frees the ghost from the spell that binds him with her tears and prayers. The 1880s was an era of real “dollar princesses” marrying English aristocrats and the story closes with Virginia receiving “the coronet, which is the reward of all good little American girls” when some years later she weds the young Duke of Cheshire.
Updating Wilde’s world
The 2023 Canterville Ghost film, directed by Kim Burdon , is a clever and stylish animation. The distinguished cast includes Stephen Fry as Sir Simon, supported by Hugh Laurie, Emily Carey, Imelda Staunton, Toby Jones, Miranda Hart and Meera Syal.
The 1880s setting is changed to 1900 and the Otises arrive in a state of the art motorcar. Hiram Otis (David Harewood) wastes no time in having Canterville electrified, much to Sir Simon’s chagrin.
A number of characters are added to the story – most significantly the genial gardener, who is also the grim reaper (Laurie) and the vicar’s wife, Algernean Van Finchley (Hart), who is an amateur ghost hunter.
Sir Simon is made a more sympathetic figure. In this version, the story that he was a cruel aristocrat who killed his wife Eleanor is untrue and he was in fact devoted both to her and to the stage. The flashbacks to his past are beautifully rendered and appear to be inspired by Victorian toy theatres .
The film revolves around two love stories: that of Sir Simon and his beloved Eleanor, separated for 300 years, and the emerging romance between Virginia Otis (Carey) and their neighbour Henry, the accident-prone young Duke of Cheshire (Freddie Highmore).
Virginia is not the little girl of Wilde’s story, but a confident and athletic young woman in riding breeches, who wants a life of adventure, not to “be someone’s wife”.
There are fine animated set pieces, including a lavish banquet thrown by the Otises that Sir Simon turns into a flaming disaster zone. But the standout sequence is in the “Garden of Death”, where Virginia secures Sir Simon’s release.
In Wilde’s story, Virginia’s experience in the garden happens off stage, but here it provides an extended action sequence in which the affable gardener reveals himself as the grim reaper. Sir Simon, Henry and Virginia have to duel with him as he morphs from one monstrous avatar to another. The garden itself is shown in a different visual style to the rest of the film, evoking the Golden Age children’s illustrations of artists such as Edmund Dulac and Kay Nielsen .
In the end, as in Wilde’s original, love does indeed prevail over death and Sir Simon is at last free. Virginia marries Henry and we see them fly off together into the future – she, of course, is at the controls.
With its stylish and imaginative animation, glittering cast and general good humour, The Canterville Ghost is a likeable film, presumably aimed at a family audience in search of a new take on a classic tale.
The credits suggest a complex international backstory, one involving British writers and directors (Space Age Films and Sprout Pictures), Indian animators (Toonz Media Group) and British and Irish government funding, as well as American finance and distribution.
The film itself, however, stays fairly close to Wilde’s vision of an Anglo-American world order, in which rich Americans mingle with the English titled classes. Perhaps that was meant to be part of its nostalgic appeal.
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India’s Toonz to Co-Produce Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Canterville Ghost’ Adaptation
By Emilio Mayorga
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Based in Trivandrum, India, Toonz Media Group will partner with Robert Chandler’s Space Age Films and Gina Carter & Stephen Fry’s Sprout Pictures in the U.K. to co-produce an adaptation of the classic tale “ The Canterville Ghost ” by celebrated Irish author Oscar Wilde.
L.A.-based Cinema Management Group (CMG) handles international sales.
First published in 1887, Wilde’s tale is an eerie, heart-warming story with touches of humor, following Sir Simon de Canterville’s ghost, which has been dwelling in his ancestral castle for 300 years. His quiet life will be unsettled when an American family—a Minister, his wife and their four children— move into the house. The ghost tries with all his might to scare them away, but fails miserably. Moreover, he develops a deep tie with the family’s teenage daughter.
First-timer Kim Burdon, an animator on “Ethel & Ernest,” will direct.
The voice cast will feature a reunion between long-time comedy duo Stephen Fry, who played the Irish writer in 1997’s “Wilde,” and Hugh Laurie (“House”). The pair will be joined by Freddie Highmore (“The Good Doctor”), Imelda Staunton (“Harry Potter”), Miranda Hart (“Miranda”) and Toby Jones (“Captain America”).
Other works of the Irish author such as “The Happy Prince” and “The Selfish Giant,” have been the subject of animated adaptations, typically in form of shorts.
Among the live-action adaptations of Wilde’s “The Canterville Ghost” is Jules Dassin’s homonymous 1944 classic, starring Charles Laughton.
Deals already closed include German-speaking Europe, Russia and CIS territories, Poland and Eastern European territories, and the Middle East and Israel. A leading animation sales company, CMG’s line-up boasts Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman’s “Loving Vincent” and Gints Zilbalodis’ “Away.”
The film is scheduled to be completed in 2021, announced CMG president Edward Noeltner who, along with producer Kristina Dubin of DubinMedia, brokered the production deal with Toonz which gives “The Canterville Ghost” “the required momentum to fly into production,” Noeltner added.
According to Toonz Media Group’s CEO P. Jayakumar: “Toonz brings 20-plus years of experience in animation to this exciting project along with hundreds of skilled animators from India and an accomplished pre and post team in place in Ireland and the U.K.”
Founded in 1999 and focused on IP design, development and production, Toonz makes around 170 hours of animated fare a year. They have also recently boarded their third feature film in partnership with Exodus Film Group, “Pierre The Pigeon Hawk,” whose voice cast includes Whoopi Goldberg, Kenan Thompson, Howie Mandel and Luis Guzmán.
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The Canterville Ghost review – spooky Halloween animation reunites Fry and Laurie
Oscar Wilde’s short story is the basis for this energetic family cartoon, with a spirited ghost voiced by Stephen Fry and a brief visit from confrere Hugh Laurie
H ere is a sprightly and good-natured pre-Halloween animation, based on the 1887 short story by Oscar Wilde; in vocal terms it reunites Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie , though not for a double-act exactly – and it should be said right away that Laurie really isn’t in it much. (I’d have liked to hear him as the gormlessly romantic Duke of Cheshire, although Freddie Highmore does a perfectly good job in that role.)
At the end of the 19th century, wealthy American Hiram Otis (David Harewood) and his family take possession of an English stately home: Canterville Chase, hoping to install a new-fangled thing called “electricity”. They’ve got it for a bargain price, because all the other owners have been scared away by the resident ghost, Sir Simon Canterville, played with genial aplomb by Fry. He now turns the frighteners on these wretched colonials, only to find that their eldest daughter Virginia (Emily Carey) is entirely unafraid of him – and the same goes for her cheeky kid brothers who startle him with their pranks and greet his alarm with the disrespectful question: “What kind of ghost is afraid of ghosts?”
A kind of meet-cute odd-couple friendship develops between the ghost and Virginia – an ectoplasmance? – while Virginia also finds herself falling for next door’s dishy, if clueless duke (Highmore), with whose family Sir Simon has a centuries-old beef. Sir Simon is wrongly supposed to have murdered his wife but he can only be free from his endless purgatory on Earth with a disproof of this calumny and a gesture of love, the location for which is here a very Wildean walled garden. The visuals are not exactly cutting edge but the storytelling has bounce and there’s gusto in the vocal talents.
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The Canterville Ghost (1988)
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