Elisabeth Moss and Benedict Cumberbatch (Photo credit: Shutterstock).

Jane Campion will direct Emmy-winner Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Avengers: Endgame’s Benedict Cumberbatch in a film adaptation of Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel The Power of the Dog.

See-Saw Films’ Emile Sherman and Iain Canning will produce with Max Films’ Roger Frappier and Brightstar’s Tanya Seghatchian.

Frappier, who optioned Savage’s novel, developed the project with BBC Films, which is also backing production.

Campion agreed to write and direct after meeting Frappier in Cannes. She partnered with producer Seghatchian (Cold War) and then approached Sherman and Canning, her Top of the Lake collaborators, to raise the finance and drive the physical production.

The story follows wealthy Montana brothers Phil (Cumberbatch) and George Burbank who are polar opposites. Phil is graceful, brilliant and cruel where George is stolid, fastidious and gentle.

They are joint owners of the biggest ranch in their Montana valley, a place where men are still men, the rapidly modernizing 20th century is kept at bay and where Bronco Henry, the greatest cowboy Phil ever knew, is revered.

When George secretly marries local widow Rose (Moss), a shocked and angry Phil wages a sadistic, relentless war to destroy her, using her effeminate son Peter as a pawn.

See-Saw’s Cross City Films will pitch the project to buyers in Cannes. Pre-production is due to start before the end of the year. No other casting was announced; the location is expected to be revealed post-Cannes.

It will be Campion’s first feature since 2009’s Bright Star. She said: “The Power of the Dog is a sublime novel that deserves a life on the big screen. I couldn’t stop thinking about the story, it really haunted me. The themes of masculinity, nostalgia and betrayal are an intoxicating mix.

“It’s also rare to find a story where the themes, the plot and the characters build tension as they reveal each other and even the end is satisfying and unexpected. It will be the first time I’ve worked with a male lead, which is exciting. Phil is a charismatic and complex character who declares war on his brother’s new wife and her teenage son.”

BBC Films director Rose Garnett added: “We’re over the moon to be supporting Jane in her first feature in 10 years – she has been too long gone from the big screen. This is a brilliant project to herald her return; unique, poetic and totally compelling.”

See-Saw chief operating officer for film Simon Gillis and head of business affairs in Australia Rebecca Hardman negotiated the production deal for the company. Campion is repped by HLA Management’s Kate Richter.

Moss is due to start filming The Invisible Man, Leigh Whannell’s sci-fi horror movie inspired by the classic monster character, co-produced by Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions and Goalpost Pictures, for Universal Pictures in Sydney in July.

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