A new film about a famous fossil hunter featuring an acclaimed TV and movie star will premiere at an exclusive screening in Lyme Regis.

Mary Anning and the Dinosaur Hunters follows the life of the famed Victorian palaeontologist building up to her ground-breaking discoveries of the ichthyosaur, plesiosaur and the pterodactyl along what is now known as the Jurassic Coast.

The film, made by new company Mermade Films and directed by Sharon Sheehan, stars Jenny Agutter - renowned for her film roles in The Railway Children and An American Werewolf in London, as well as TV's Call the Midwife, among many other productions.

Agutter plays Elizabeth Philpot who mentored Mary Anning, while Anning herself is played by Katharine (Katy) Hamilton. The film also stars Jonathan Moore and Paul Storrier.

Scenes for the new movie were filmed at Charmouth and Lyme Regis as well as in Cornwall.

The biopic will delve into how Anning navigates her career while constrained by the patriarchal society of the 1800s. As a woman from a working class background, many within the scientific community were reluctant to acknowledge her work with male scientists taking credit for her discoveries. 

Inspiration for the film came from the director’s own memories of fossil hunting in Lyme Regis, and she hopes the film will “champion Mary Anning – and Dorset.”

Filming began in 2017 and received the support of Lyme Regis Town Council which agreed to provide funding of £5,000. 

The film is due for release this year and the Lyme premiere is among the first exclusive screenings. It will also be shown at film festivals. 

The Lyme screening will be at the Marine Theatre on Sunday, June 9 at 6.15pm. It will be followed by a Q&A chaired by Jonathan Moore with director Sharon Sheehan.

Dorset Echo: Katy Hamilton as young Mary Anning (& dark Blue Lias rocks) on Charmouth beachKaty Hamilton as young Mary Anning (& dark Blue Lias rocks) on Charmouth beach (Image: Andrew Blackmore)

READ MORE: Incredible life of Lyme Regis fossil hunter Mary Anning

The film follows hot on the heels of another Mary Anning biopic, the 2020 film Ammonitestarring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan which was also shot locally.

Lyme Regis has been a popular filming location for major other productions including Wonka, the 2022 adaptation of Jane Austin's Persuasion, and famously, the 1981 film The French Lieutenant’s Woman.

READ MORE: Jenny Agutter starring in Mary Anning film shot in Lyme Regis

The film premiere of Mary Anning and the Dinosaur Hunters is part of the Fossil Festival 2024 programme which aims to celebrate the rich geological heritage of the Jurassic Coast.

Dorset Echo: Mary Anning ( Katy Hamilton) fossiling in Lyme Regis with Henry de la Beche, played by Tom Machell PICTURE: Andrew BlackmoreMary Anning ( Katy Hamilton) fossiling in Lyme Regis with Henry de la Beche, played by Tom Machell PICTURE: Andrew Blackmore

A spokesperson from the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival said: "We are delighted to be exclusively hosting the premiere of 'Mary Anning and the Dinosaur Hunters' at this year's Fossil Festival and giving festival goers the opportunity to be amongst the first to see this new film screened in the very place that Mary made all her ground-breaking discoveries.

“The film will shine a spotlight on Mary's life and her contributions to science and of course highlight why Lyme Regis is the birthplace of palaeontology and a must-visit for fossil enthusiasts! It's going to be a real highlight of this year's festival programme, we can't wait."

The film is two-and-a-half hours long and rated PG. Exact dates for general cinema screenings and streaming services is yet to be confirmed.