With the immense critical and commercial success of “The King’s Speech” demonstrating what a stupid idea it was to scrap the UK Film Council, who funded the Tom Hooper film, the British film industry is still caught in a kind of a limbo. Projects are certainly moving forward, and recent news like the deal between Fox Searchlight and Ingenious to fund British movies bodes well, but there’s still an enormous amount of uncertainty in the business at present, ahead of the Film Council’s dissolution a few months from now.
Fortunately, there are still companies getting films made, and Film 4, who’ve had success in recent years with films like “Slumdog Millionaire,” “127 Hours” and current festival fave “Submarine,” and Origin Pictures (“The First Grader“) have announced two new projects in development, both with high profile writers attached. The companies will team on “Anubis,” a science-fiction short story from writer Paul Murray, whose novel “Skippy Dies,” about the aftermath of a death of an Irish student in a donut-eating contest, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the biggest fiction prize in the UK, last year.
The film will be a relationship comedy, set in the future, about two space travellers who are distracted from their mission by beautiful women, and fast-rising screenwriter Jane Goldman has been hired to pen the script. Goldman’s best known for her collaborations with Matthew Vaughn on “Stardust,” “Kick-Ass” and the upcoming “X-Men: First Class,” but she’s been striking out on her own of late, with the Daniel Radcliffe ghost story “The Woman In Black,” and the period thriller “Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem.”
Ed Rubin, head of development at Origin, describes the picture as “genuinely distinctive and appealing territory, with the feel of something like “Sideways” in space,” and TV veteran Yann Demange, who’s done exceptional work in recent years on the likes of zombie miniseries “Dead Set” and the drama “Criminal Justice,” will make his big screen debut on the project.
The two companies are also teaming on “Tusk Tusk,” an adaptation of the play by Polly Stenham, who’ll write the screenplay herself. The play follows three children who are abandoned by their mother, and have to fend for themselves, and debuted at the Royal Court Theatre to great acclaim in 2009. Stenham had her first play, “That Face,” staged in 2007, when she was just 20; it helped to launch the careers of both Matt Smith and Felicity Jones, and transferred to the West End, and last year, to New York.
This writer’s known Polly socially for a few years now, and she’s both lovely, and immensely talented, so we’re pretty excited to see this moving forward. No director or cast are currently attached, so it’s perhaps slightly further away than “Anubis,” but it’s good news nonetheless. [Screen Daily]