Eddie Redmayne’s Stephen Hawking biopic chases Oscar with a November release

Back in June last year, we mentioned the theoretical likelihood of awards attention for “Theory of Everything,” James Marsh-directed biopic starring Eddie Redmayne as motor neuron disease-affllicted physicist Stephen Hawking. Now, with the news that Focus Features will be releasing the British production, and has selected a November 7 release date, that looks even likelier.

Focus, of course, had a major Oscar hit last year with “Dallas Buyers Club,” the scrappy, heartfelt indie that quietly chugged its way to six Oscar nominations and three wins, including Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.

It was widely thought that the film represented a kind of last hurrah for the studio's prestige era, following the displacement of James Schamus as CEO and the announcement of a more mainstream-driven ethos. Clearly, however, the success of “Dallas” kept them gold-hungry, since “Theory of Everything” is very much the sort of high-end project Focus might have steered under Schamus's command. (Presumably not coincidentally, they opened “Dallas” in a very similar slot, on November 1 — like that film, “Theory” will also begin with a limited run before later expansion.)

The film focuses principally on Hawking's relationship with his first wife, arts student Jane Wilde, on whose memoir Anthony McCarten's screenplay is principally based; they married in 1965 and had three children together, in spite of his declining health, before divorcing 30 years later. Felicity Jones (who recently delivered a career-best turn in “The Invisible Woman”) will play Wilde; the premise suggests a romance along the lines of “A Beautiful Mind,” which could mean baity work from both stars. Emily Watson and David Thewlis head up the supporting cast.

Director Marsh won the 2008 Best Documentary Feature Oscar for “Man on Wire,” though recently excelled in the narrative sphere with the IRA drama “Shadow Dancer.” Production company Working Title last hit big on the awards circuit with “Les Miserables” — which, of course, was also a breakout moment for Redmayne.