Ricky Gervais, James Marsh, Armando Iannucci films on slate.
BBC Films has revealed details of its upcoming slate, which includes new projects from Ricky Gervais, Armando Iannucci, James Marsh and Ritesh Batra.
The slate of projects was revealed during an event in London to celebrate the 25th birthday of BBC Films, whose first first theatrical production, Truly Madly Deeply, directed by Anthony Minghella, was released in 1990.
As previously reported, Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox) will direct an adaptation of Julian Barnes’ Man Booker Prize winning novel The Sense of an Ending.
The adaptation is the debut screenplay of award-winning playwright Nick Payne and tells the story of Tony Webster, whose comfortable world is rocked to its foundations by the emergence of an explosive letter from his careless youth.
David Thompson will produce for Origin Pictures.
Rafe Spall is confirmed for Swallows and Amazons, a reinvention of Arthur Ransome’s classic. Written by Andrea Gibb, the film will be directed by Philippa Lowthorpe and produced by Nick Barton.
With Armando Iannucci the BBC has just begun development on a new version of David Copperfield, to be adapted by Iannucci and fellow Dickens afficionado Simon Blackwell (In the Loop).
The slate includes a reunion with The Office creator Ricky Gervais for Life on the Road, the film about his seminal creation David Brent. 15 years on, Brent is now a travelling salesman engaged in a belated bid for rock stardom, with a documentary crew following his every move.
Written and directed by Gervais, he will also produce alongside Charlie Hanson.
Stephen Frears’ Florence Foster Jenkins, which tells the story of the world’s worst soprano who sold out Carnegie Hall, is set to begin filming this year with Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant.
Lone Scherfig will direct Their Finest Hour and a Half based on the novel by Lissa Evans and written by Gaby Chiappe. Amanda Posey and Stephen Woolley will produce the portrait of the topsy turvy world of wartime London.
As previously reported, BBC will also be backing James Marsh’s (The Theory Of Everything) next film about amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst, starring Colin Firth.
City of Tiny Lights is a contemporary detective thriller based on the novel by Patrick Neate. Produced by Ado Yoshizaki, Rebecca O’Brien, Pete Travis directs a script which Neate has adapted himself, with a cast which includes Riz Ahmed and Cush Jumbo.
As previously reported by Screen, BBC Films is backing Being AP, a doc about jockey AP McCoy in the final year of his career.
Additional docs on the slate include director Sophie Fiennes’ Grace Jones - The Musical of My Life, a journey through the private and public realms of the legendary singer and performer.
Produced by Katie Holly, James Wilson, Emilie Blézat and Sophie Fiennes, BBC Films join the BFI Film Fund and the Irish Film Board as co-financers.
Meanwhile Ross MacGibbon is directing the feature documentary about the youngest-ever star of the Royal Ballet, Sergei Polunin, with choreography by David LaChapelle. The film will be produced by Philomena producer Gaby Tana.
The BBC announced two new projects aimed at fostering new talent: Greenlight, a joint venture with the NFTS to fund one short film a year for three years directed and crewed by NFTS recent graduates, and Screenplay First, a screenwriting award to be curated by BBC Writersroom in collaboration with BBC Films.
The award will be open to writers with previous credits in theatre, TV or radio but who have yet to have a feature film commissioned. In addition to a prize of £10,000, the winner will receive assistance with development from BBC Films.
BBC Films is also making available a selection of scripts from the last 25 years to the BBC Writersroom’s online script library.
BBC Two will celebrate BBC Films’ 25th Anniversary with a week of BBC Films’ titles in May, which will include the premieres of Great Expectations and Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.
Head of BBC Films Christine Langan said: “We’re so proud to celebrate 25 years of flying the flag for British film. Since our first production, Anthony Minghella’s unique Truly Madly Deeply, BBC Films has played a vital role in finding and nurturing the British talent at the heart of so many successful films.”
“BBC Films stands not just for great British talent, but amazing British stories. We’re hugely excited about a current slate that reflects what a dynamic and vibrant place Britain is today. Britain has a wealth of incredible film-making talent and it’s never been more important for the BBC to support, promote and celebrate it.”
Tony Hall, BBC director-general stated: “BBC Films represents everything I love about the BBC. What started as just a small part of our drama department 25 years ago has grown into a creative powerhouse recognised the world over.
“The money we put in goes a very long way – every £1 attracts around £5 more of investment to produce British films that otherwise wouldn’t be made. That’s a great achievement.”
Since its creation in 1990 BBC Films has backed more than 250 films. 15 are due to get theatrical release this year.
Upcoming releases backed by BBC Films include Thomas Vinterberg’s Far From the Madding Crowd, Simon Curtis’ Woman in Gold, Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos, Mr Holmes starring Ian McKellen and Nick Hornby’s adaptation of Colin Tóibín’s Brooklyn.