Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn's SKA Films, the UK production company behind Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and the upcoming Snatch, is readying at least two other projects to shoot this year.
Newcomer Simon Cooke is to direct a $12m-15m period film in the UK this autumn. SKA expects to finance the project, tentatively titled Black Earth, through the consortium of private investors assembled for Lock, Stock plus several other new private backers.
Vaughn, the producer of Lock, Stock and Snatch, said that the project would combine action, drama and comedy, appealing to 16-24 year olds. Based on the true story of one of Cooke's ancestors, the script follows a black fen-dweller in seventeenth-century England who guides King Charles I to Scotland through the treacherous marshes after he is defeated in the English Civil War.
Although the King first thinks that the fenman is a heathen, he has had a classical education after living in English high society, where it was fashionable for ladies to have a young black man on a lead.
SKA is also in negotiations with Paramount Pictures to re-make Robert Aldrich's 1974 prison drama The Mean Machine (aka The Longest Yard), starring Burt Reynolds, in which a football match between inmates and guards becomes a focus for prison tensions.
SKA aims to set the project in England and base it around a soccer match. Expected to be called The Penalty, the project would be a vehicle for Vinnie Jones, the soccer player turned actor who shot to attention in Lock, Stock. Newcomer Barry Skolnik is lined up to direct the $5m project.
SKA aims to finance The Penalty itself, although Paramount may handle distribution as a negative pick-up. Snatch, Ritchie's directing follow-up to Lock, Stock, followed a similar financing and distribution process with Columbia. 'We aim to make three films a year for three years and then figure out things from there,' Vaughn said.
Vaughn envisages SKA financing all or most projects, with distributors typically boarding as negative pick-ups. Snatch, a crime caper with a cast including Jones, Brad Pitt, Ewen Bremner, Benicio Del Toro and Jason Flemyng, is two weeks from final cut.