When is The Current War released in cinemas? Who’s in the cast and what’s it about?

Everything you need to know about the rivalry drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch

The Current War

The Current War is finally reaching cinemas in 2019, two years after the film was originally scheduled for release.

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Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the inventor Thomas Edison, the release of The Current War was postponed amid the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Is the film based on a true story? Why exactly was it postponed and when is the new release date?

Here’s everything you need to know…

When is The Current War released in cinemas? 

The Current War will be released in UK cinemas on 26th July 2019.

Film fans in the US will have to wait until 4th October 2019 for the movie to be released in the States. 

Who’s in the cast of The Current War? 

Michael Shannon, Benedict Cumberbatch and Nicholas Hoult
Michael Shannon, Benedict Cumberbatch and Nicholas Hoult (Getty)

Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock fame leads the cast of The Current War as inventor Thomas Edison, and is joined by Michael Shannon (The Little Drummer Girl) as rival entrepreneur George Westinghouse.

The Favourite’s Nicholas Hoult also stars as inventor Nikola Tesla, as well as Cumberbatch’s Avengers colleague Tom Holland as Edison’s young secretary Samuel Insull and Succession‘s Matthew MacFadyen as financier JP Morgan.

Rounding off the cast are Katherine Waterston as Westinghouse’s wife Marguerite Erskine, Tuppence Middleton as Edison’s wife Mary, Conor MacNeill as William Kemmler, the first person in the world to be legally executed using an electric chair, and Damien Molony as lawyer W. Bourke Cockran. 

What is The Current War about and is it based on a true story?

Thomas Edison exhibits first successful incandescent lamp
Thomas Edison exhibits first successful incandescent lamp (Getty)

The Current War is a historical drama, based on a true story, exploring Edison’s rivalry with entrepreneur Westinghouse. It chronicles the race to light up America and the world in the 19th century, and how both men wanted to take control of the way electricity would shape the future.

Set in 1879 when Edison was on the verge of bringing electricity to Manhattan, the biopic delves into how his plans were thrown into disarray by charismatic businessman Westinghouse, who believed he and his partner Nikolai Tesla had a better idea for how to electrify the United States.

Edison and Westinghouse’s battle marked one of the first and greatest corporate feuds in the history of America.

Who were Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse? 

George Westinghouse
George Westinghouse (Getty)

Edison has been described as America’s greatest inventor, having developed many devices including the lightbulb, the phonograph and the motion picture camera. Rising from humble beginnings, he was prolific in his field, with more than 1,000 US patents in his name, and helped to build America’s economy during the Industrial Revolution.

George Westinghouse was an American entrepreneur and engineer who invented the railway air brake and is seen as a pioneer of the electrical industry. In the early 1880s, he put all his resources into developing and marketing alternating current as an electricity distribution system, putting his business in fierce competition with Edison’s direct current system.

Westinghouse’s method was cheaper – but Edison claimed it was more dangerous…

Why has the release of The Current War been so delayed? 

weinstein
Harvey Weinstein

The Current War’s release, originally set for 2017, was postponed by The Weinstein Company in the wake of sexual abuse and rape allegations against its co-founder, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

At the time, Cumberbatch said in a statement: “I am utterly disgusted by the continuing revelations of Harvey Weinstein’s horrifying and unforgivable actions.”

Before the scandal erupted, The Current War had already premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, to weak reviews, but director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon told Deadline the cut of the movie that premiered at the festival was not the one he intended, claiming Weinstein’s intense pressure to meet the festival’s deadline resulted in rushing post-production.

“It had been accepted to Toronto based on an early cut and then came the rush to finish in time,” Gomez-Rejon said.

“I knew in my heart, and every fibre of my body was saying, it’s not ready. I was drowning in notes, to the point I was addressing them more than editing the film. I’d get them from London, and then more from New York. We rushed the mix, ADR, sound.

“You go in knowing [Harvey Weinstein’s reputation for re-cutting films]. People warned me to be careful and I was determined to not be another casualty until I saw the [Toronto] cut and felt like an idiot. I went in fearless and then suddenly you realise you are a casualty, a footnote.” 

In April 2019, Deadline reported that 101 Studios had bought the domestic rights for The Current War, so Gomez-Rejon re-edited the film, adding new scenes and cutting the length. This presumably means the end result is fairly different from the version that showed at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Is there a trailer for The Current War?

There certainly is, here’s a first look…

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And a follow-up trailer here with some additional footage – and teases of its starry, starry cast – here: