Widows, Steve McQueen’s adaptation of the 1980s TV series about bereaved women who turn to crime, will open this year’s BFI London Film Festival.

Viola Davis, Cynthia Erivo, Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki play the titular widows in a film that also stars Liam Neeson and Daniel Kaluuya.

The original UK TV series, written by Lynda La Plante, aired on ITV in 1983.

McQueen, director of 12 Years a Slave, said he was “absolutely delighted” to be opening the festival on 10 October.

“Watching the UK TV version of Lynda La Plante’s original thriller as a teenager in the 80s had a major impact on me and so it feels very special to be sharing this film with a UK audience.”

Ann Mitchell, Fiona Hendley, Maureen O’Farrell and Eva Mottley played the lead roles in the TV series, which saw their characters stage a robbery planned in detail by their late husbands.

The new version, written by McQueen with Gone Girl and Sharp Objects author Gillian Flynn, relocates the action from 1980s London to modern-day Chicago.

Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall and Jacki Weaver also appear in the film, described by the festival’s artistic director, Tricia Tuttle, as “a feature to savour on the biggest cinema screens”.

“This is scintillatingly rich storytelling from a magnificent film-maker, probing issues around race, class and gender, while always delivering immense style and crackingly sharp thrills,” she continued.

Widows is the fourth feature from McQueen, winner of the Turner art prize in 1999. He also directed Hunger, about the hunger striker Bobby Sands, and sex addiction drama Shame.

He followed them with 12 Years a Slave, a hard-hitting depiction of an American slave’s lot that won three Oscars, including best picture, in 2014.

His latest film will have its international premiere at the 62nd London Film Festival, which runs from 10 to 21 October.

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