Ealing's head of studio Barnaby Thompson will produce Dorian Gray. Ben Barnes, who plays Prince Caspian in the next Narnia movie and also appears in Ealing's Easy Virtue, will star. The project starts shooting in late July. Toby Finlay has written the script
The high-calibre crew includes DoP Roger Pratt (Harry Potter), designer John Beard (The Wings Of The Dove), and costume designer Ruth Myers (The Golden Compass).
'It felt like a natural extension after The Importance Of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband. 'It will have the same quality of acting and cast as the other ones, but this is a classic gothic thriller so it speaks to a younger audience. It's a period film but it will feel modern.' (CGI will be used.) Dorian Gray is budgeted at $22m and pre-sales will be announced soon.
Amma Asante will start shooting Where Hands Touch in autumn 2008 (it is the long-awaited follow-up to 2004's A Way Of Life); Thompson is producing.
In Hitler's Germany, a mixed-race young woman starts a dangerous affair with the son of a senior SS veteran and after they are separated, their lives come together again at a concentration camp. 'It's a beautiful untold story,' said head of international sales Natalie Brenner. 'Amma was fascinated by the black experience in World War II and she researched the history for a year.' That project is out to cast now. The $12-$15m film will bring on a German co-producer and also plans to access the German tax credit and regional funds.
Following the UK box-office hit St Trinian's, Ealing as expected is planning a sequel to that franchise. The new St Trinian's And The Legend Of Fritton's Gold will start shooting in January 2009 for a pre-Christmas 2009 release. Again, the film will be co-directed and co-produced by Barnaby Thompson and Oliver Parker; Piers Ashworth and Nick Moorcroft are working on the script now. The schoolgirls become involved in a treasure hunt across London. The budget is expected to be slightly larger than the first.
'It will shoot half in school and half on location,' Thompson predicts. 'It's early but we hope to get most of the same cast back, along with a few new girls.' The cast could become more international, but Thompson hopes that UK stars like Russell Brand will also return.
Meanwhile, a North American deal on the originally is expected to be closed within the next week. 'The US distributors really embraced it but it's about doing the best deal for the film,' Brenner said. 'It's an atypical British film in that it needs a wider multiplex release.' It has sold theatrically around the world, with the exception of some holdouts in Southeast Asia. 'It's an Anglo-centric story but people have really embraced it,' Brenner said. The film is scheduled to open this summer in European territories.
In terms of the production side of the studio, current shoots include Pathe and Celador's The Descent 2. Gary Stone is the new studio manager and Simon George has been promoted to director of finance and operation.
Added managing director James Spring: 'The business plan was to do four to six movies per year (both in-house developed productions and others taken on for sales) and this year will be five or six. Having Natalie and the sales division means we can be talking about the market perspective for films during the development phase. But on the other hand, with Barnaby, there is our own creative mindset.'
Ealing International's slate also includes Julian Fellowes' From Time To Time to start shooting in August starring Maggie Smith; Richard Eyre's The Other Man in post starring Liam Neeson, Antonio Banderas and Laura Linney; and Stephan Elliott's Easy Virtue, starring Jessica Biel and Colin Firth. Invite-only promo screenings are being held for The Other Man and Easy Virtue.