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Jodie Comer turns West End stage debut into €2.6m cinema hit

Raising the bar for stage-to-screen: Jodie Comer's performance  in Prima Facie is a box office hit
Raising the bar for stage-to-screen: Jodie Comer's performance in Prima Facie is a box office hit   -   Copyright  Helen Murray/Copyright © Empire Street Productions 2022. Photography Helen Murray
By Thomas Hill

The actress who played Killing Eve’s sassy assassin Villanelle has been responsible for another hit with screenings of her London stage show Prima Facie packing out cinemas.

It was a West End debut for Jodie Comer, 29, and a one-woman show at that. Comer’s performance had won over London’s theatre critics, making its transfer to cinemas through NT Live a hot ticket.

The National Theatre says over 140,000 people watched Prima Facie in over 700 UK cinemas in its first eight days of release, achieving €2.6 million at the UK box office alone. The title is being released in over 20 countries around the world. In Europe, this includes France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

Jodie Comer shared her enthusiasm for the stage-to-screen release on an NT Live Broadcast, saying, “I am delighted that our production of Prima Facie will be available to watch in cinemas across the world. Alongside our ticketing initiatives this is another way that we can make sure that this play is accessible to anyone that would like to see it.”

The solo performance of Suzie Miller’s play was directed by Justin Martin at the Harold Pinter Theatre. It was first released to cinemas around the world on Thursday, July 21st, 2022.

The Killing Eve star plays Tessa, described as a brilliant young barrister, who has worked her way up from working class origins to the top of her game; defending; cross examining and winning. We’re told an unexpected event forces Tessa to confront the lines where the patriarchal power of the law, burden of proof and morals diverge.

Credit: Helen Murray
Jodie Comer in Prime FacieCredit: Helen Murray

Jodie Comer has wowed television audiences and critics on both sides of the Atlantic. In Britain, she won the 2019 BAFTA TV award for Best Leading Actress for Villanelle in Killing Eve, and in 2022, won her second BAFTA award for Leading Actress for her performance in Help. In the US, Jodie Comer took the 2019 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Killing Eve, and is nominated again for the same role in this year’s Emmy’s, which are announced in September.

The successful transfer of Prima Facie from stage to screen has given a welcome boost to NT Live’s productions, which have been filmed and distributed for 13 years.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the response to the National Theatre Live broadcast of Prima Facie, in partnership with Empire Street Productions,” said Emma Keith, Director of Digital Media, National Theatre. 

“NT Live continues to provide a collective moment for our audiences to enjoy theatre, helping to ensure that as many people as possible have the chance to see incredible performances, no matter where they might be in the world."

In September NT Live’s Much Ado About Nothing starring Katherine Parkinson and John Heffernan will be filmed at The National and released at cinemas in the UK and Ireland, with global distribution starting on December 1st. While on October 6th a new comedy by Richard Bean and Oliver Chris, Jack Absolute FliesAgain, another performance at The National, will be distributed globally.

The winter season includes Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull with Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) in a production directed by Jamie Lloyd. It is Emilia Clarke’s West End debut, and on the NT Live broadcast, she said: “We are so excited to share The Seagull with audiences around the world through National Theatre Live. Bringing theatre to a wider audience is incredibly meaningful to me and I hope you’ll join us to see The Seagull unveiled on the big screen this autumn.” 

The Seagull will have its cinematic release on November 3rd and will be filmed live in the West End.

On January 26th 2023, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible will be released in cinemas. Directed by Lyndsey Turner and starring Erin Doherty (The Crown) and Brenda Cowell (Yerma) the performance will be captured live at the Olivier stage of the National Theatre.

On February 23d 2023, Shakespeare’s Othello will be distributed. Filmed live at the Lyttleton stage of the National Theatre, and featuring Giles Terera (Hamilton), Rosy McEwen (The Alienist) and Paul Hilton (TheInheritance), the play is directed by Clint Dyer.

Additional sources • NT Live