Council greenlights funds for Leigh film

LONDON — Mike Leigh has been awarded $3.3 million from the Arts Council’s Greenlight Fund to help finance his ambitious $22 million project woven around the lives of Victorian composers Gilbert & Sullivan.

But producer Simon Channing-Williams still has to complete the rest of the financing for the film, which is currently known only as “Untitled ’98,” in typical Leigh fashion.

Same terms as usual

The budget is several times greater than any previous Leigh project, but potential backers are being sought on the same terms as usual, with only the sketchiest outline of the subject matter and the cast.

According to the Arts Council, “Untitled ’98” investigates “the intricacies and relationships surrounding Gilbert and Sullivan at the time of their comic opera ‘The Mikado.’ ” Sources say the only named actor is Jim Broadbent.

The Greenlight Fund uses national lottery money to back larger projects from established British directors as an incentive to keep them making films in the U.K.

French major Pathe is lining up to take rights in U.K., France and Germany, through its local distribs Guild, AMLF and Tobis. Channing-Williams has an overall deal with Pathe as part of the winning Pathe Pictures bid for an Arts Council film production franchise funded by the national lottery.

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