The success of well-received ghost tale “The Woman In Black” has benefited pretty much everyone: Star Daniel Radcliffe has proven he can be a viable lead outside of the “Harry Potter” franchise, revived horror label Hammer Films has taken its place again at the top of the British genre tree (the picture has taken £20 million at the U.K. box office, making it the most successful home-grown horror picture ever), and director James Watkins has undoubtedly landed himself on the top of many wishlists.
Watkins, who made his debut with the Michael Fassbender-starring hoodie horror picture “Eden Lake,” has sci-fi actioner “Methuselah” in the works from ‘Potter’ producer David Heyman, but it looks like that won’t be his next picture: Screen Daily reports that he’s changing lanes, excuse the pun, to direct the based-in-fact sports drama “Second Is Nowhere” for BBC Films and AL Films.
The script, penned by “Johnny English Reborn,” “Twins” and “How To Train Your Dragon” writer William Davies, made last years’ Brit List, and focuses on the rivalry between British runners Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett, who competed for world records and gold medals in middle-distance races at the Olympics and other athletics championships across the late 1970s and early 1980s, a rivalry that captured the attention of the British public in a big way (Coe would go on to head up the bid for the London 2012 Olympics, playing a huge part in securing the games for the city).
With the Games almost upon us, clearly there’s some good timing at work, although BBC Films head Christine Langan is adamant that the film isn’t going to be rushed, telling the trade that “We didn’t commission it because of the 2012 Olympics. It’s a really good British story that is very exciting and compelling. In a way, it might be good for us to avoid this period of the Olympics because of overkill. I think it will be quite refreshing when it appears, hopefully late next year.” It’ll be intriguing to see what Watkins can do with a project outside of the horror genre that he’s made his name on, particularly when “Chariots Of Fire” comparisons are likely to be so prevalent.
Meanwhile, BBC Films are also gearing up for another biopic picture, albeit one from a very different time and place, as the same story reveals that the company are partnering with legendary producer Jeremy Thomas (“The Last Emperor“) and his Recorded Picture Company to back “You Really Got Me,” the long-gestating feature film story of The Kinks, to be directed by punk rock documentarian Julien Temple.
The project, which will focus on the intense rivalry between the band’s sibling duo Ray Davies and Dave Davies, has been in the works for at least three years, but seems to be moving forward, thanks to a new script by veteran writers Dick Clement and Ian LaFrenais (“Across The Universe,” “Killing Bono“), with the intention of shooting later in the year. Thomas calls the project “incredibly exciting, a unique tale, the Cain and Abel of rock,” and it could certainly make for killer material.
Temple’s rock-n-roll themed pictures include docs “The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle,” “The Filth And The Fury” and “Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten,” but he’s had less luck with his feature fare, like “Absolute Beginners” and “Earth Girls Are Easy” — hopefully he’ll come good here. The film seems to have supplanted another music biopic he was working on, the Marvin Gaye film “Sexual Healing,” which will hopefully resurface down the road. If all goes well, both “You Really Got Me” and “Second Is Nothing” will hit theaters in 2013.