Roman Polanski's upcoming Oliver Twist is gaining steam in Europe with partners in place and casting underway.
The film, an adaptation of the Dickens novel, will be produced by Polanski, Robert Benmussa and Alain Sarde - the same team behind Oscar winner The Pianist - for Polanski's company RP Productions, the UK's Runteam and Italy's Medusa.
Pathe will distribute both in the UK and in France with Medusa handling Italy and a pre-sale already in place to Tobis for Germany.
Speaking to ScreenDaily.com, Benmussa said that casting would likely be finalised in March. "Roman intends to remain very faithful to the original Dickens work," he said "We've been casting for two months already and are looking for purely English actors - that means not even people from other areas of the UK - and preferably Londoners."
Benmussa points out that some roles could go to known actors but that the director is not specifically seeking out names and "is looking for good English actors to play the appropriate roles."
With a budget of $60 million, the film is being written by Pianist Oscar winner Ronald Harwood and will begin shooting on June 21 in Prague.
Benmussa says the choice of location was based on finding a studio - in this case Barrandov - where it would be possible to recreate the London of the 19th century. "We needed a studio with a big backlot and this was the best solution, besides Prague has become the Hollywood of Europe !" he added.
The film is scheduled for release in November 2005.