EXCLUSIVE: Fresh from his turn in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, David Oyelowo has been set to star in and produce A United Kingdom, a love story based on the true tale of Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams. The film is backed by UK-based Pathe, which is coming off Philomena and Mandela. They are out to directors and will film next year in London and Botswana. Oyelowo will play Seretse, heir to the African throne of Botswana, who created a sensation in 1948 by engaging in a whirlwind romance in London with Williams, a white English office worker he married. The interracial union was opposed by both their families, as well as the British government, the Tribal elders of Botswana and the apartheid government of South Africa. The couple would not be denied, overcoming huge obstacles to be together, including exile and the abdication of the throne. Their son, Ian Khama, is currently the freely elected president of Botswana.
Oyelowo will produce with Rick McCallum, Brunson Green, Justin Moore Lewy and Charlie Mason. They are out to directors on a script written by Guy Hibbert, whose credits include Omagh and Five Minutes Of Heaven. Hibbert is exec producing with Cameron McCraken.
The film’s being done with cooperation from the Khama family, which issued a statement from Botswana: “We are pleased that the story of Sir Seretse Khama and Lady Khama is being brought to life in the film A United Kingdom by Pathe. Our family has been regularly involved in development of this film so far, having collaborated closely with the screenwriter Guy Hibbert in what we believe is a wonderful script. We are equally pleased that David Oyelowo will lead the cast as Seretse.”
Filming is scheduled to begin in London and Botswana in 2014. Oyelowo is shooting Captive, which he also produced, starring opposite Kate Mara. He completed the Christopher Nolan-directed Interstellar, starred opposite Zoe Saldana in Nina Simone, and the indie Nightingale, in which he is the sole speaking actor on screen for the duration of the film. Some of us still remember him for his empathetic agent Danny Hunter in MI-5. Oyelowo is repped by WME, Inphenate and Hamilton-Hodell. Hibbert is repped by WME and Independent Talent Group in the UK.
The latest entry to Bertrand Tavernier‘s diverse canon is a political satire that’s inspired by a comic book. Quai D’Orsay opened on Wednesday in France, scoring the best first-screening numbers in Paris, but ended up second overall for the day, behind another French film, En Solitaire. … Read More »
European Film Academy Unveils European Documentary Nominees
The Act Of Killing, Stop-Over and The Missing Picture are the European Film Academy‘s nominees for Best European Documentary. The Act of Killing is a Denmark-Norway co-production from director Joshua Oppenheimer about Indonesian death squad veterans re-enacting their deeds musical numbers, twisting arms in film noir gangster scenes, and galloping across prairies as yodeling cowboys. Stop-Over (L’Escale) is a Switzerland-France co-prod from Kaveh Bakhtiari that centers on Amir, an Iranian immigrant in Athens whose modest becomes a place of transit for migrants who, like him, have chosen to leave their country. In the France-Cambodia pic The Missing Picture (L’Image Manquante), which won the Un Certain Regard Prize at Cannes, writer-director Rithy Panh addresses his family’s horrifying experiences during the Pol Pot regime’s reign over Cambodia from 1975-79. The winner will be announced during the European Film Awards on December 7 in Berlin. Read More »
The Royal Film Performance is the major annual fundraising event for the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund, the UK charity that cares for industry employees and their families who are suffering hardship. Last year, Peter Jackson’s The … Read More »
Veteran Exec François Ivernel Exits Pathé To Launch Production Company
Pathé said today that veteran top executive François Ivernel has resigned to launch Montebello Productions, a London-based film-production company that will open June 3. He most recently … Read More »
The Cannes Film Festival will wrap with Jérôme Salle’s noir thriller Zulu on May 26. The Pathé, Lobster Tree and M6 Films co-production stars Forest Whitaker and Orlando Bloom. Shot on location in South … Read More »
Sofia Coppola‘s The Bling Ring recently got a June 14 domestic release date from distributor A24, which acquired the film in January. Before that, Pathé releases in France on June 5 (there’s also buzz about a potential slot at May’s Cannes Film … Read More »
As craftily built co-productions become increasingly attractive, Studiocanal executive Léonard Glowinski is moving on to launch Paris-based production structuring and financing group 22h22. Glowinski, who started out as a banker for BNP Media in the 90s, spent 10 years at Pathé before joining Studiocanal in 2009 as head of French and European productions. He tells me the new company will bring European backing to international producers on films with substantial budgets in order to best optimize financing and reduce risk. He intends to work with a small number of films from the outset, creating co-production packages that take advantage of the various mechanisms available throughout Europe including subsidies, local incentives and private equity. Films that Glowinski had a hand in structuring at Pathé include Oliver Stone’s Alexander, box office hit Asterix And Obelix At The Olympic Games and Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell And The Butterfly which he executive produced. At Studiocanal, he was involved in putting together Liam Neeson-starrer Unknown and Oscar nominee Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Read More »
What’s in a name? Well if the name is Adolph – and it’s what you plan to call your new baby – you can be sure there’s a hornet’s nest. That’s just the tip of the iceberg in Alexandre de la Patellière and Matthieu Delaporte’s hit Parisien play Le Prénom (The Name) which Pathé is bringing to the bigscreen. I’ve learned that the French major is co-producing and will begin international sales on the feature next week at the Rendez-Vous With French Cinema in Paris. The film stars Patrick Bruel, Valérie Benguigui, Charles Berling, Guillaume de Tonquédec and Judith El Zein. The premise is this: Expectant father Bruel is interrogated as to the baby’s name during a dinner at his sister and brother-in-law’s home. When he announces he’s chosen “Adolph,” the family is plunged into chaos. He defends the name on an intellectual basis – it is after all the title of a famous piece of 19th century literature by Benjamin Constant – but the family is having none of it. The bourgeois-bohemian living room satire extends to other discoveries about the family and was a hit at Paris’ Théâtre Edouard VII last year, drawing comparison to Harold Pinter. Read More »
Here’s a shot in the arm for French cinema: Gaumont’s award-winning crowd-pleaser Untouchable has catapulted to the top of the French box-office heap for 2011 in less than four weeks of release. The studio announced today that the film has … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Director Danny Boyle will follow his Oscar-nominated 127 Hours with Trance, a thriller that will shoot in London this September. I’m told it’s an art heist gone wrong, and it’s got the dark, sexy, hard-edged tone of Boyle films … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Guillermo del Toro, The Jim Henson Company and Pathe are ready to go on Pinocchio, a 3D stop motion animated adaptation of the Carlo Collodi fairy tale that will be edgier than the 1940 animated Disney classic. Gris Grimly will co-direct with Mark Gustafson, and production will begin later … Read More »