Blazing new Pathe

Lotto franchise taps name helmers for slate

LONDON — After a year of re-evaluation under its new management team, U.K. lotto franchise Pathe Pictures has unveiled a development slate that mixes big-name Brit directors with quirky genre projects.

Literary adaptations by helmers Mike Newell, Iain Softley and Brian Gilbert rub shoulders with a Bollywood romance and a kung-fu action comedy.

There are also scripts from leading Brit writers Simon Beaufoy, Michael Hirst and Simon Nye.

This marks the first detailed announcement by development head Matt Gannon since he arrived a year ago from Fox Searchlight.

Varied fare

“The development slate reflects Pathe’s aim to finance distinctive films across a broad range of budget levels, with both established directors and writers and exciting new talent,” said managing director Francois Ivernel.

“It also reflects an emphasis on comedy, event films and genre-driven material, which are all a key part of our goal to produce five or six quality commercial films each year,” he added.

Newell is attached to direct “The Seven Fires of Mademoiselle,” based on Esther Vilar’s novel about a Washington, D.C., woman who goes to extraordinary lengths to seduce the man of her dreams. Judi Counihan and Lila Rawlings will produce.

Softley will direct and produce “Vurt,” adapted by Jeff Noon from his sci-fi thriller about a man whose lover has been transported to another world by a mind-altering drug.

Building history

Pathe has boarded the long-standing Gilbert project “Hawksmoor,” based on Peter Ackroyd’s novel about the eponymous 17th-century church architect. Marc and Peter Samuelson will produce.

Rising helmer Gurinder Chadha (“Bend It Like Beckham”) is developing an untitled Bollywood-style romantic comedy set in London, India and America. She will direct, produce and co-write with Paul Mayeda Berges.

“Drunken Monkey” is a chopsocky movie set in London, to be directed by commercials helmer Chris Palmer, with Xavier Marchand producing.

Beaufoy (“The Full Monty”) is scripting “Waterloo Sunset,” a comedy about a London family. Hirst (“Elizabeth”) has signed up to pen an epic love story set in Europe and America.

Top sitcom scribe Nye is writing the romantic comedy “Tunnel Vision,” based on Keith Lowe’s novel set in the London Underground. Steve Bendelack will direct for Damian Jones and Graham Broadbent’s Mission Pictures.

Mission also is developing a transatlantic movie with the self-explanatory title “A Romantic Comedy About Divorce.” Director is Mark Mylod (“Ali G Is in Da House”).

Working with Ivernel and deputy managing director Cameron McCracken, who both arrived earlier in 2000, Gannon has put much of Pathe’s previous slate into turnaround.

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