Producer Christopher Granier-Deferre of London-based Poisson Rouge Pictures will work with Mrs Henderson Presents writing and producing team David and Kathy Rose to develop a feature based on the life of Cesar Ritz.

Ritz was the flamboyant entrepreneur behind the success of the The Ritz Hotel.'He really changed the way we see luxury,' Granier-Deferre told Screen.

'It was his attention to detail that made him a great hotelier but that also led to his personal downfall.'

'The film will be structured as an old man attempting to remember his past to a journalist. We see his capacity for greatness, but also his present condition [Ritz died in an asylum in 1918.]

Granier-Deferre, who recently worked on Francois Ozon's Angel and Marek Losey's The Hide, will produce with the Roses. Financing for the $20m project is being arranged by Screen Opus, which is also handling international sales. Screen Opus' Nicolas Bonnard and Courtney Williams will executive produce.

A UK-based director will be attached soon for a spring 2009 shoot at locations including the London Ritz (which is now privately owned).

Ritz started from a humble restaurant in Cannes before setting out for Paris, London, Madrid and then the worldwide Ritz-Carlton Group.

Screen Opus is an independent sales and financing company based in London but part owned by France's MK2 and US-based Severance Pictures. Bonard comes from MTV Networks International and Courtney Williams from MGM.

Meanwhile, Poisson Rouge is now finished on The Hide, a psychological thriller that shot at Pinewood studios.

Also an executive producer on Miriam Kruishoop's Sam's Story starring Neve Campbell and Gabriel Macht (with San Fu Maltha and Molly Hassell producing; Velvet Octopus handles sales). That will shoot in August. 'It's a very fun film, a completely different kind of romantic comedy,' he said.

It also has US project Hat Night by ex-journalist John Meyers. The film will be his directorial debut, about a guy who gets into financial trouble after trying to rescue a prostitute from her pimp. It will shoot in Connecticut in October on a budget of about $1.5m.

The company's co-productions also include My Father's Notebook by Marleen Gorris.