Python alum Jones bows prod’n house

Hopes to be Messiah of low- to mid-budget pics

LONDON — Former Monty Python member Terry Jones is launching a U.K. production company, Messiah Pictures, which he hopes will re-create the success of Python-founded film companies Handmade Films and Prominent Features.

Messiah, which brings together an eclectic team of collaborators, including Julian Doyle (f/x director and editor on the Python films) and TV producer Mark Hiley, will develop and produce low- to middle-budget features.

Projects under development at the company include music-themed “The Chemical Wedding,” co-written by Doyle and Bruce Dickinson, of heavy metal band Iron Maiden, and budgeted at £3.5 million-£4 million ($5 million-$6 million). Also penned by Doyle, “Dope Opera” follows a bag of marijuana around London; its budget is around $3 million. Jones will select and supervise scripts as well as work on his own projects as writer and director.

Private donors

Company has amassed a private equity sum to start its operations and aims to raise $1.5 million. Investment director Jochen D. Schaefer-Suren will lead that effort.

Also involved in setting up Messiah are Jones’ son Bill, and Ben Timlett, who currently run Soho-based post-production company Bill & Ben Prods. Terry Jones was previously a partner alongside the other Pythons in the now-defunct Prominent, whose most notable success was “A Fish Called Wanda.” Python alumni John Cleese, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam will not be partnering in Messiah, which takes its name from “Monty Python’s Life of Brian,” but they are publicly promoting the venture.

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