By Indiewire | Indiewire April 20, 2004 at 2:0AM
New Line Gets Mike Leigh's Latest "Vera Drake"
by Eugene Hernandez
New Line Cinema has acquired North American rights to "Vera Drake," the latest picture from British filmmaker Mike Leigh. The movie has been tipped as a Cannes competition entry but its fate won't be revealed until the lineup is unveiled on Wednesday in Paris. The film stars British actress Imelda Staunton in the lead role, it is the story of a woman -- in 1950s England -- who secretly helps women induce miscarriages for their unwanted pregnancies. The company will release the movie this fall in North America.
Staunton, known for her work in "Bright Young Things" and "Shakespeare in Love," is featured in the film alongside Jim Broadbent, Heather Craney, and Philip Davis. The movie was produced by regular Leigh collaborator Simon Channing-Williams, and executive produced by Gail Egin, Robert Jones, and Alain Sarde. It was financed by the UK Film Council, Ingenious Media, and Studio Canal.
"Mike Leigh has created a magnificent catalog of thought-provoking films which have resonated with audiences and critics all over the world. Our previous relationship with Mike on his award-winning film 'Naked' broke many unspoken boundaries and New Line was proud to be a part of its success," said New Line co-chairman and co-CEO Michael Lynne. "I believe that 'Vera Drake' continues to put Mike Leigh at the forefront of our greatest filmmakers, contains a groundbreaking performance by Imelda Staunton and raises critically relevant issues in an emotionally involving family situation."
Leigh, born in England in 1943, is an Oscar nominee for his work on "Topsy Turvy" and "Secrets & Lies." His latest film was the 2002 movie, "All or Nothing." He began working in television in the 1970s, later launching a feature film career with "High Hopes" in 1988, "Life is Sweet" in 1991, "Naked" in 1993," "Secrets & Lies" in 1996, "Career Girls" in 1997, and "Topsy-Turvy" in 1999.
New Line's SVP of business and legal affairs Carolyn Blackwood negotiated the pact with John Kochman from Studio Canal.