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Mike Newell To Direct ‘On Chesil Beach’; Sam Mendes Stays On To Produce

Mike Newell To Direct 'On Chesil Beach'; Sam Mendes Stays On To Produce

Last year, in the midst of the MGM financial debacle that left the productions of both “Skyfall” and “The Hobbit” in doubt, director Sam Mendes was looking at another project, an adaptation of Ian McEwan‘s “On Chesil Beach.” Granted, getting the picture mounted seemed to difficult as financing was never quite there, but there was a glimmer of hope when StudioCanal begin sniffing around the film after Focus Features dropped it. And then…everything went quiet. Well, with “Skyfall” now in front of cameras, Mendes will be too busy to take it on, but another helmer has stepped in to take his place.

Mike Newell, who is currently shooting “Great Expectations” for release next fall, isn’t going to be resting any time soon. ScreenDaily reports that he’ll board the production that how has StudioCanal, Neal Street Productions and BBC Films behind it. So why has this one been so hard to get off the ground? The source material isn’t exactly the easiest sell to a studio type.

The tricky narrative sets the story in 1963 as a young, virginal, newly married couple — Edward Mayhew and Florence Ponting, ages 23 and 22 — have dinner in their wedding suite on the Dorset Coast, and prepare to consummate their vows. Edward has been holding off on masturbating in order to be ready for the big night, but is anxious about his performance, while Florence is dreading the upcoming experience entirely. However, given the era, they are unable to take openly about their reservations, leading to bitter post-coital fight. Sexually frank and explicit, it’s easy to see why his one didn’t exactly have financiers flocking, though it did have a star. Sort of.

Carey Mulligan was attached in July of 2010, and a male lead was being sought but that’s about as far as it got. The project is seemingly starting over on the casting front, so no word yet who will slot in those lead roles.

Mendes will remain involved as a producer, but obviously, his eyes will be very busy on Bond. Newell has been big on literary adaptations (“Enchanted April,” “Donnie Brasco,” “Great Expectations”) but let’s just hope he does a better job on this than “Love in the Time of Cholera.”

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