Samuel Goldwyn Co. picked up the rights to produce and distribute “The Madness of George III,” the acclaimed British play that looks at the brief bout of insanity of the king who lost the colonies.
With scabrous wit, “Madness” looks at a brief period near the end of the 18th century, when George loses his mind because of a metabolic imbalance, something the doctors at the time didn’t understand.
As the king’s mind and body disintegrate, his son angles to take control of the throne.
“We think it’s exactly the kind of material that’s exciting upscale audiences ,” said Tom Rothman, Goldwyn’s worldwide production prexy.
The play is something of a star vehicle for the title role. Rothman said Nigel Hawthorne, who originated the role in London and brought it to the U.S. stage, is expected to star in the film. Hawthorne won the Laurence Olivier Award, the London Drama Critics Award and the Evening Standard Drama Award for his stage performance.
The pic will also mark the motion picture directorial debut of Nicholas Hytner, the red-hot British legit helmer whose revival of “Carousel” won raves in London and is a hotly anticipated ducat for its bow this season on Broadway
Hytner directed “Madness” both at the Royal National Theatre in London during its 1991 debut and during its U.S. tour last year.
Alan Bennett, who wrote the play and screenplay for Stephen Frears’ “Prick Up Your Ears” in 1987, will adapt “Madness” for the screen. Stephen Evans, who worked Goldwyn’s “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Henry V,” will produce and David Parfitt will co-produce.
Goldwyn expects to spend about $ 10 million to make “Madness,” with production beginning in May in England. The company plans a Christmas 1994 release.