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Brits’ Barker call

Arts Council ponies $3.3 mil for 'Daniel'

LONDON — The Arts Council of England has awarded £2 million ($3.3 million) in lottery coin to co-finance a movie version of George Eliot’s novel “Daniel Deronda,” to be directed by Mike Barker.

“Daniel Deronda” is the latest classic adaptation from Renaissance Films, whose credits include “The Wings of the Dove,” “Henry V” and “The Madness of King George.”

The $15 million project, scripted by Andrew Davies, is slated to shoot this fall, subject to finance, with Stuart Townsend and Rhys Ifans being lined up to star.

Backing is already in place from Entertainment Film Distributors and BBC Films. Producer Stephen Evans is trying to put an American deal in place, with Paramount Classics, Fox Searchlight and Sony Pictures Classics all in discussions.

Other projects

Also in the works at Renaissance is “The Luzhin Defense,” adapted by Peter Berry from the novel by Vladimir Nabokov. Dutch helmer Marleen Gorris will direct, with Christopher Walken, Anna Galiena and Simon McBurney to star.

It’s the story of an uncouth chess grandmaster who arrives in the Italian lakes to play the match of his life and finds himself falling in love. UGC is on board as the foreign sales agent with co-financing from British Screen. Caroline Wood is producing alongside Evans.

The final project on the current Renaissance slate is “Rebel Magic,” based on an original screenplay by Simon Moore about an 18-year-old witch in a remote part of Scotland. It’s a German co-production, with Icon Entertainment Intl. handling foreign sales.

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