‘The Nightingale’ Movie: What We Know About The Upcoming Film

Kristin Hannah's novel about two estranged sisters struggling to survive World War II is being adapted into a feature film. Here's everything you need to know about 'The Nightingale' movie.

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Elle Fanning
View gallery
Image Credit: Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock

The NightingaleKristin Hannah‘s 2015 novel set during World War II, is getting the big screen treatment. The upcoming film of the same name has been in the works since 2015. Sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning are set to star in the project together, marking their first joint project since 2001’s I Am Sam. It will also be the first time that Dakota, 28, and Elle, 24, play sisters in a movie. The Nightingale has experienced a bumpy pre-production journey and filming still has yet to take place.

The upcoming film tells the same story as the novel by Kristin, 61. It follows two sisters who struggle to survive and resist the Germany occupation of France during World War II. Here’s everything you need to know about The Nightingale film, including the cast and crew, the release date, and more.

‘The Nightingale’ Cast and Crew

Dakota and Elle Fanning
Dakota and Elle Fanning at the ‘Teen Sprit’ premiere on April 2, 2019 (Photo: Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock)

As mentioned before, the Fanning sisters are starring in The Nightingale. Dakota will play Vianne Mauriac, the older sister to Isabelle Rossignol who will be played by Elle. In the book, which begins on the eve of World War II, Vianne is a school teacher and mother living in France. She’s estranged from her sister Isabelle, who takes on a very active role in resisting German occupation in France. As of September 2022, Elle and Dakota are the only actors who have been cast in The Nightingale.

French actress/filmmaker Melanie Laurent, 39, is directing The Nightingale. Melanie memorably starred in Quentin Tarantino‘s WWII film Inglourious Basterds. This will be Melanie’s second American feature film she’s directed, after the 2018 thriller film Galveston which also starred Elle. Dana Stevens is writing the screenplay for the film. She wrote the script for the new action movie The Woman King starring Viola Davis.

TriStar Pictures and Cantillon Company are producing The Nightingale and Sony Pictures is distributing it. Sony owns TriStar Pictures and made a deal with Netflix and The Walt Disney Company to stream and broadcast The Nightingale and other Sony movies after their theatrical releases. This means The Nightingale could end up on streamers like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+.

How Close Will the Movie Be to the Novel?

The Nightingale film is expected to have a similar story to the novel, though it’s possible there will be some changes. In the book, Viannne (who will be played by Dakota) and her 8-year-old daughter experience the German occupation in France, while her husband is drafted into the war. She hides Jewish children from the Nazis and becomes subjected to horrific physical and sexual abuse at the hands of a German officer. Isabelle (who will be played by Elle) joins the French Resistance and helps downed Allied pilots escape Nazi occupied territory. The book was inspired by Belgian woman Andree de Jongh, who assisted Allied Forces during the war.

Melanie Laurent
Melanie Laurent at the 2022 Venice Film Festival (Photo: Laurent VU/SIPA/Shutterstock)

As of 2021, Kristin’s novel has sold over 4.5 million copies worldwide and has been published in 45 languages. This is the first film adaption of The Nightingale. TriStar Pictures acquired the rights to the book in March 2015. Elizabeth Cantillon, and then Michelle MacLaren, were hired to direct the project but they both dropped out. In December 2019, Melanie Laurent signed on as director with Dana Stevens as the screenwriter and Elizabeth Cantillon still on the producing team. Dakota and Elle were cast in the lead roles three months later.

Release Date

The Nightingale still does not have a release date. In fact, TriStar actually removed the film from its release calendar in October 2021. The movie was scheduled to be released on December 25, 2020, when filming was going to begin earlier that year in Budapest, Hungary, and Los Angeles. But production shut down in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing TriStar to delay the release date to December 22, 2021, and then to December 23, 2022. There’s no release date for The Nightingale at the moment and filming has not even started.

After the production shut down, Melanie focused on directing her French supernatural thriller film The Mad Women’s Ball. That project was released in September 2021. Melanie most recently addressed The Nightingale‘s release in an interview from September 2021. “It’s very complicated for me to talk about [‘The Nightingale’], because we haven’t found any solutions right now,” she told IndieWire. Although the film’s future appears to be up in the air, fans are still hoping we see the brave and courageous story from the novel play out on the big screen.