Screenwriter Julian Fellowes and producer Ileen Maisel plan to develop future projects with Swarovski Entertainment, which backed their new Romeo and Juliet.
Fellowes told Screen: “Ileen and Nadja [Swarovski] and I want to work together again. We’re looking at various things that we’re not ready to talk about yet, but it won’t be long to wait until we launch off again. It’s been a good collaboration.”
Sales company Speranza13 showed footage of Romeo to buyers yesterday. Hot talents Hailee Stenfeld and Douglas Booth star for director Carlo Carlei. The film recently wrapped its Italian shoot.
Fellowes, who is a family friend of Swarovski’s, brought the company onto the project after Amber’s Maisel had hired him to write a new adaptation of the classic play. It marks his first Shakespearean adaptation.
“It’s one of his most economically told plays. And it has got some of the most wonderful speeches he ever wrote, and I’m happy to say that they all still in the movie,” said Fellowes, best known as the writer of Gosford Park and Downton Abbey.
He continued: “It’s been such a long time since a traditional romantic Romeo, really since Zeffirelli 44 years ago. Baz Luhrmann’s was wonderful, but it wasn’t a traditional medieval Italy climbing roses kind of film…We wanted young people not to feel the language was a barrier. We wanted it accessible, we wanted to open it up and to make it fresh and easy to follow and reasonably brisk.”
Fellowes also had high praise for the Italian experts working on the shoot. “The whole Cinecitta experience was so extraordinary…I hope the Italian government gets behind Cinecitta in these tough times…if the studio goes under it will be a real loss to Italy.”
Swarovski Entertainment made a “substantial” backing of the $17m overall budget.
Fellowes notes: “It was the right movie for Swarovski, it doesn’t mean they have to spend the rest of their lives making movies with gorgeous period costumes with crystals, but it was a good bridge in.”
Swarovski crystals have long been featured on Screen (such as in Audrey Hepburn’s tiara in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Dorothy’s ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz) and 12 years ago the company started to work more actively with costume designers on films. Two years ago in Cannes, the company announced its first film backing, for Shekhar Kapur’s Paani (still in development now). The company also sponsors a new talent award at the BFI London Film Festival and works with schools like UCLA.
“Our investment in movies is an investment in creativity,” said Nadja Swarovski, Swarovski Entertainment chairwoman and the film’s executive producer. “From my point of view, we choose our partners careful, its so important that the collaboration is right. We like to embark on relationships that are mutually beneficial and this is a good foundation. We’re open to anything, but as with our product, we want to create something that’s relevant to the consumer. We want movies that are interesting, gripping, emotionally touching, and positively impactful.“
The company plans to keep working with films of budgets between $10m-$20m.
Swarovski will also launch a related link of jewellery for Romeo and Juliet.