The resignation of Jude Law as a director of Natural Nylon Entertainment, following that of Ewan McGregor last year, signals the end, for now, of the much-hyped Britpack film outfit. “We’re in a dormant period,” confirms producer Bradley Adams.
It seemed like a good idea seven years ago, when Law, McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller and Sean Pertwee joined up with Adams and fellow producer Damon Bryant to launch Natural Nylon. All the talk was of the actors developing their own material as an alternative to “prostituting” themselves in Hollywood.
But the lure of the studios proved too strong. As the careers of Law and McGregor soared, Natural Nylon’s projects stubbornly failed to get off the ground. Law did make “eXistenZ” for the company, and McGregor starred in the ill-conceived James Joyce biopic “Nora,” but nothing since.
“It was a nice idea, but the reality is that we lost out to the American dollar,” confesses one insider. A former associate delivers a more damning verdict on the company: “The biggest waste of an opportunity I’ve ever seen.”
Perhaps the writing was on the wall the moment that Law took $2.5 million for “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” instead of $250,000 for the Natural Nylon project “White Clouds.” Or maybe it was when the Elizabethan drama “Marlowe,” developed for Law and McGregor, stalled because Alliance Atlantis, which had a three-year deal with the company, balked at casting Law’s wife Sadie Frost.
Bryant, who fell out with Law and Frost over “Marlowe,” left last year, taking that project and “White Clouds” with him. He also co-produced the Sundance entry “Owning Mahowny,” on which Natural Nylon retains a credit.
Meanwhile, Adams and affiliated producer Kevin Loader managed to get Mike Barker’s “To Kill a King” made last year without any of the actor-partners. But the collapse and re-financing of that pic in mid-production took a great toll on the company.
As recently as last spring, there were plans for an IPO in tandem with sister TV outfit Union Pictures. Union, in which the actors have no stake, went into voluntary receivership Dec. 20, although it is still finishing off the TV series “Rockface.”
Natural Nylon itself is still owned by its five original founders, but has no active operations. Adams says there are still a couple of projects with the actor-partners that might come back to life.
“We want to see how ‘To Kill a King’ goes first,” says Adams. “Maybe having an actors’ company is not the best way of doing things, but we will probably make films together again, and if we do I expect we will use the Natural Nylon banner.”
To add to the mystery, Law and Frost are developing their own projects outside Natural Nylon. They are both credited as producers on the upcoming “The World of Tomorrow,” which is Law’s next starring role. After that they are hoping to produce and co-star in “Psychoville,” formerly a Natural Nylon project which they are now setting up outside the company.
‘Nickleby’ misses out on BAFTAS
Doug McGrath’s Golden Globe nominee “Nicholas Nickleby,” shot in the U.K. with a largely British cast, has missed the deadline for a run at this year’s BAFTAs because it still doesn’t have a distributor in Blighty. Or indeed anywhere outside North America. United Artists owns worldwide rights, but the pic is not confirmed to go through MGM’s foreign distribution deal with Fox. Other alternatives under consideration include putting through United Intl. Pictures, which has shown interest, or even placing it with indies. Hopes of pushing the pic for selection at the Berlin film fest have also been damaged by the lack of a German distrib.