• The Weinstein Co. is already stocking up for awards season 2014, acquiring domestic distrib rights to the Nelson Mandela biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom starring Idris Elba.
    "I am extremely passionate about 'Long Walk to Freedom,' " said TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein. "Anant Singh first gave the book to me when the first edition came out. We have been talking about making this film since 1999. There have been a number of stop and goes, but sometimes things work out for a reason, and Anant Singh has done a masterful job in producing this epic story of our times."

    Producer Anant Singh has tried to get the film off the ground for more than two decades, communicating with Mandela from prison and acquiring his biography in 1996. "Skyfall" thesp Naomie Harris also stars as Mandela's former wife Winnie, with Justin Chadwick ("The Other Boleyn Girl") directing.

    "Les Miserables" scribe William Nicholson penned the script, which covers Mandela's life from childhood in a rural village to becoming the first democratically elected president of South Africa.

    Several producers originally chased the book rights, but the longstanding relationship between Mandela and Singh paid off.

    "Singh is a producer I respect very much," Mandela said. "Given the resources and backing, he will produce a work of the highest standards and excellence, and it is for that reason, I opted for him."
    No release date has been set, but the film is in post-production, making a 2013 release likely. It would join TWC fall kudos-season hopefuls "The Butler," starring Forest Whitaker, and "August: Osage County," starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.

    The deal was negotiated in London by David Glasser and Michal Steinberg for The Weinstein Company and Anant Singh and Alan Grodin of Weintraub Tobin for Distant Horizon.
  • Origin Pictures has had a three-part adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s gothic romance, Jamaica Inn, greenlit by BBC1 - along with PD James’ Death Comes to Pemberley.
    Emma Frost, lead writer on The White Queen, is adapting the novel set in 1820 and based on the Cornish moors.

    Broadcast first revealed the BBC was considering the Origin Pictures and BBC Northern Ireland project in July last year.

    The plot revolves around the story of Mary Yellan who goes to stay with her aunty Patience, in Cornwall’s Jamaica Inn to discover it is a front for a sinister group of criminals.

    Jamaica Inn was made into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock in 1939.

    Ed Rubin and David Thompson are both executive producing with the BBC’s Stephen Wright as executive producer along with Hilary Heath.

    Origin has also been given the greenlight by BBC1 to produce PD James adaptation, Death Comes to Pemberley. The three part series has been in development since March 2012, as revealed by Broadcast.

    Set in the world of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the drama is set for Christmas 2013 and picks up with Elizabeth and Darcy who have been married for six years and embroiled in a murder mystery plot.

    Polly Hill is executive producing for the BBC with Thompson and Rubin.

    BBC1 controller Danny Cohen and controller of BBC drama commissioning Ben Stephenson ordered both series.
  • Written by acclaimed playwright Alexi Kaye Campbell and produced by Origin Pictures’ David Thompson, the film tells the story of Maria Altmann, who fought alongside lawyer Randy Schoenberg to reclaim several world famous Gustav Klimt paintings...
    It follows Curtis’ production of My Week With Marilyn with BBC Films last year.

    Curtis told Broadcast that the story came to his attention after it was featured on Alan Yentob’s Imagine series. He said it was an intriguing and powerful story centering around one woman’s bid to take on the Austrian government.

    The BBC is also in Cannes to discuss The Alan Partridge Movie (working title) which begins shooting in the autumn. Produced by Baby Cow, Kevin Loader, Henry Normal and Armando Iannucci, the film will be directed by Declan Lowney.

    The movie promises to portray the events of the “greatest low-to-high-ebb spectrum” in Partridge’s life to date, namely how he tries to salvage his public career while negotiating a potentially violent turn of events at North Norfolk Digital Radio.

    The BBC also announced an adaptation of Vera Brittain’s acclaimed World War II memoir. Testament of Youth will be written by Calendar Girls writer Juliette Towhidi. Saoirse Ronan is attached to play Vera in the Heyday Films production.

    Towhidi is also writing a 3-part TV adaptation of PD James’ Death Comes to Pemberley for Origin Pictures.
  • Origin Pictures and BBC Films are developing a feature update of the classic Charles Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities.
    David Farr has delivered the script, which is now going out to directors. Origin is in Cannes seeking potential investors on the project, which it aims to shoot next year.
    In-demand writer Farr, who co-wrote Hanna and is associate director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, has also written episodes of popular BBC television series Spooks.
    The update marks the third Dickens feature backed by the BBC, after Great Expectations and The Invisible Woman.
  • The Crimson Petal and the White has picked up five nominations at this year’s BAFTA Television and Television Craft Awards, including Best Mini Series.
    BAFTA voters have also given a Best Actress nod to Romola Garai. The Best Mini Series category sees Crimson Petal go up against ITV’s Appropriate Adult and Channel 4’s Top Boy and This England ’88. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on Sunday 27th May.

    The drama has also picked up three nominations at the Television Craft Awards for Lol Crawley (Photography), Luke Dunkley (Editing) and Jacqueline Fowler (Make Up & Hair Design).
  • Pathe International has come on board for the Nelson Mandela biopic, described as “the largest South African production ever mounted.”
    Pathe Pictures has acquired most international rights to Anant Singh’s long-gestating Nelson Mandela biopic Long Walk to Freedom.

    Pathe/Fox will distribute in the UK and France and Pathe will handle rights throughout the rest of the world excluding North America and Africa.

    Idris Elba is confirmed as Mandela and Justin Chadwick will direct, as Screen reported previously.

    Singh’s company Distant Horizon today announced that the film will begin principal photography on May 26. The story spans Mandela’s life from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected President of South Africa. Bill Nicholson wrote the screenplay.

    Singh produces with David Thompson of Origin Pictures.

    There was no confirmation of other cast, though Screen understands that Skyfall actress Naomie Harris has been in talks to play Winnie Mandela.

    The 15-week shoot will take place where the drama originally unfolded, taking in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal, as well as the infamous Robben Island, Pollsmoor and Victor Verster prisons where Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years.

    Cameron McCracken, managing director of Pathé UK, said: “I have been aware of Anant’s obsession with this project for the past 15 years - it reminded me of Richard Attenborough’s 20 year struggle to get Gandhi made – I can think of nothing more satisfying than finally to be part of Anant’s dream becoming a reality. The life of Nelson Mandela deserves to be celebrated on the biggest of screens in the biggest of multiplexes!”

    Anant Singh, CEO of Distant Horizon said: “We are delighted finally to be in pre-production onLong Walk to Freedom. It will be the largest South African production ever mounted and will provide an opportunity for thousands of South Africans to participate in the making of the film, including the best of South Africa’s acting talent. It has taken many years to find the right actor, however Idris is perfectly cast to play Nelson Mandela – he has the passion, the star power, the African upbringing and, of course, the height! We are thrilled that Idris’s brilliant performance is going to be brought to the public by our friends at Pathé, who have steered such global successes as The Queen, Slumdog Millionaire and The Iron Lady.”
  • .
    Anant Singh’s long-gestating Nelson Mandela biopic heats up with Justin Chadwick in advanced talks to direct and Skyfall actress Naomie Harris in talks to star as Winnie Mandela opposite Idris Elba.

    Director Justin Chadwick and actress Naomie Harris are in talks to reunite on Anant Singh’s long-gestating Nelson Mandela biopic Long Walk to Freedom, which has seen an injection of life in recent weeks.
    Harris, soon to appear in Bond film Skyfall, is in talks to play Winnie Mandela opposite Idris Elba who is believed to be on board as Nelson Mandela.
    Screen understands that crews have been booked and the project is likely to shoot in South Africa in May. The film will have an epic sweep, charting the whole of Mandela’s life, including scenes shot on notorious Robben Island where Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in captivity.

    Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) directed Harris in Singh’s 2010 drama The First Grader about a Kenyan villager and ex Mau Mau freedom fighter.

    Singh’s Videovision Entertainment produces with David Thompson’s Origin Pictures - also behind The First Grader - on board as co-producers.

    Gladiator, Shadowlands and Les Miserables writer William Nicholson has scripted.

    The anticipated biopic, officially sanctioned by the iconic South African president, has had a number of UK directors attached during its long gestation, including Tom Hooper and Shekhar Kapur. Morgan Freeman was once attached to play Mandela.

    However, Screen understands that the drama is “very much alive and kicking” and is in its most advanced production stage to date.
    Singh, also CEO of LA-based Distant Horizon, has corralled financing for the large-scale passion project from state and private sources.
  • Origin Pictures is working across an exciting slate of film and TV projects including a Wire-style crime drama set in Manchester from Matt Greenhalgh and an adaptation of recently optioned PD James novel Death Comes to Pemberley.
    UK film and TV outfit Origin Pictures is working across an exciting slate of TV projects backed by the BBC, including serials in development from Matt Greenhalgh (Control, Nowhere Boy) and Juliette Towhidi (Calendar Girls) as well as a series charting the birth of chocolate giant Cadbury from James Graham (Prisoners’ Wives).

    Greenhalgh has delivered the first episode of a proposed four-part crime-drama Silencers to commissioners at BBC2. Origin described the project as a “tense police thriller with shades of Training Day and The Wire, about a young police officer who is part of a unit that tackles gang and gun crime in Moss Side, Manchester.”

    Towhidi, whose feature script Testament of Youth placed sixth on the Brit List, is writing a three-part adaptation of PD James’ most recent novel Death Comes to Pemberley – recently optioned by Origin – a murder mystery set in the world of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
    Playwright/screenwriter James Graham (Prisoners’ Wives) is writing Chocolate Wars, an adaptation of Deborah Cadbury’s acclaimed non-fiction book about the history of chocolate.

    The concept is being written as a returnable series charting the birth of the UK giant through the story of two young brothers who struggle to turn a near bankrupt Victorian chocolate works into a brand giant – a task made all the harder by their own idealism as Quakers. Fremantle is also on board the development.

    London-based Origin, which has a first look TV distribution deal with Fremantle, has also acquired TV rights to Daphne Du Maurier’s popular 19th century love story Jamaica Inn.

    Origin chief David Thompson, the former head of BBC Films, told Screen: “Death Comes to Pemberley is a new venture for us and new territory for TV. No one has done a crime show set in Austen’s world before. We secured the rights to the book against stiff competition but Juliette Towhidi is a great combination with the material. There was a similar battle for Chocolate Warswhich is another delicious tale for the Sunday night slot and is a story of vision and enterprise. Silencers is a very different flavour. It is dangerous, vibrant and very unlike current crime shows thanks to the fantastic research done by Matt.”

    Origin head of development and executive producer Ed Rubin added: “It’s exciting to be working with such a terrific array of talent and on a really diverse range of pieces. More than ever it feels like there is real fluidity in writers and directors moving between film and television, which is certainly indicative of Origin’s slate.”

    The company is also across a number of anticipated UK features, including BBC Films and BFI-backed drama X + Y, also written by James Graham, which will be directed by BAFTA-winning director Morgan Matthews (The Fallen).
    Inspired by Matthews’ BBC documentary Beautiful Young Minds, X + Y is a rites of passage drama about a teenage prodigy’s journey to the Mathematics Olympiad, and his quest to find a formula for love. Mathews’ Minnow Films will co-produce. Casting is underway.
    Thompson said of X + Y: “This is one of our front runners on the film slate. This is what we are gearing up to finance. The film has shades of Billy Elliot, which I was involved in commissioning. It is a very uplifting and affirmative love story about two hyper-clever and extraordinary teenagers from very different worlds.”

    Polly Stenham’s Tusk Tusk, William Boyd’s Ordinary Thunderstorms and Ronan Bennett’s Granny Made Me an Anarchist are also on Origin’s feature slate and have all featured on the Brit List.
    Origin dramas Hidden and Crimson Petal and The White aired on BBC last year. The company’s feature credits include The Awakening and The First Grader.
  • The BBC Two adaption of The Crimson Petal and The White was the top winner at this year's RTS Craft and Design Awards with three gongs.
    Based on Michel Faber's 2002 novel, the Victorian drama scooped best production design, costume design and best make up in the drama category.

    There were also awards for Eric and Ernie, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey and the Judges Award went to Spooks.

    The ceremony was held at London's Savoy hotel and was hosted by Myleene Klass.

    The judges described the costumes used in The Crimson Petal and The White as "stunning, highly designed with beautiful detail".

    The Spooks production team picked up the prestigious Judges Award for being "one of the most important original British drama series of the last decade", the panel said.

    The series, which began in 2002, came to an end earlier this year.

    The judges said it sparked a "new wave of smart, sophisticated, thought-provoking and above all entertaining drama on British television and beyond"

    The Doctor Who Christmas special last year was named winner for best digital effects, beating Inside The Human Body and the second series of Misfits.

    The Impressions Show with Culshaw and Stephenson beat Dancing On Ice and Come Fly With Me to the prize of best costume design in the entertainment and non-drama category.

    Best picture enhancement went to the BBC Two drama Eric and Ernie and Coronation Street's lighting team were commended in the best lighting for multicamera category.

    The prize for best multicamera work went to Channel 4's 24 Hours In A&E, beating off competition from the team who produced the Royal Wedding coverage for BBC One.

    ITV's Downton Abbey was presented with the gong for best photography for drama, whilst Human Planet picked up the prize for best photography in the documentary category.
  • A renowned author and debunker of hoaxes, Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) is called to a provincial boarding school to explain away sightings of a phantom boy. What she discovers will prompt her to reconsider her deductive tactics — and send her mind spiraling back to a distant, forgotten past. Set in 1921, The Awakening belongs to a great English tradition of ghost stories that work their chills through psychology and suggestion.
    Origin's latest feature will play in competition at Toronto on September 16th and will have its European premiere at London Film Festival on October 25th.