On August 28, 2008, it was announced that Paula Mazur, who produced the film Nim's Island, and Florida bookstore owner Mitchell Kaplan had acquired the film rights to the novel. On August 4, 2011, it was reported that Kenneth Branagh would direct the project with Fox 2000 handling the production and Don Roos writing the script.
Production was due to begin in the spring of 2012 for five weeks. On February 14, 2012, it was announced that the production plans to film in Guernsey had been delayed by casting issues. At the time, Mazur thought the production could then start between the end of May and the beginning of September. However, it was eventually postponed until 2013.
In July 2010, Jason Moriarty, director of marketing and tourism, explained that the production taking place in Guernsey would rely on the economics and logistics of the film. He picked out the fact that the island, being small, doesn't have the capacity necessary to welcome a Hollywood production. Mazur stated that other possible filming locations included the southern part of England. In January 2012 Branagh visited the island to identify some filming locations. Mazur had planned to begin filming in early 2012, but on 20 January she announced that most filming would take place in London, with only a few scenes being shot in Guernsey.
Kate Winslet, Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt were cited as potential candidates for the final casting. On January 13, 2012, it was revealed Kate Winslet had joined the film. She would have portrayed Juliet Ashton but it was later revealed that she was not involved with the production anymore. Later this year it was announced that the starring role will be played by british actress Michelle Dockery who is mostly known by the public from her portrayal of Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey