For an early indicator of which films will be dominating the headlines next awards season, look no further than The Weinstein Co. The film studio has a celebrated history of buying up Hollywood's major players, counting The King's Speech, The Artist and Silver Lining's Playbook among its recent successes with this year's contenders, Philomena and August: Osage County, also on its books.
The latest addition to their roster is Benedict Cumberbatch's upcoming biopic The Imitation Game based on the life of computer scientist and codebreaker Alan Turing. The film sees the Sherlock actor portray the gifted cryptographer who played a key part in deciphering the Naxis' Enigma code during the Second World War, only to be criminally prosecuted for his homosexuality, eventually committing suicide in 1954.
Cumberbatch stars opposite Keira Knightley as Turing's one-time fiancé and close friend Joan Clarke, with Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Mark Strong and Downton's Allen Leech also appearing.
Footage from the film was previewed on Friday to buyers at the European Film Market sparking a fierce bidding war, reports Deadline, which resulted in The Weinstein Co.'s hefty $7m (£4.26m) payment for the US rights.
Confirming the deal, Weinstein told the American website, "These guys got it so perfect, they did a better job than I ever could have. Benedict is unbelievable, and this is going to be a big year for Keira. Between this and Can A Song Save Your Life? she is going to be a major star. We look at this as a major release and we’re thrilled to have it."
The move naturally pinpoints the film - directed by Morten Tyldum - as a (very) early awards contender ahead of the 2015 round of ceremonies. Cumberbatch has been no stranger to critical acclaim over the past few months with two of his films - Twelve Years a Slave and August: Osage County - firmly in the mix as awards season nears its climax with the Oscars next month.