Writer-director Jake Paltrow, younger brother of Gwyneth, is poised to make his feature debut with “The Good Night,” a romantic comedy set in New York but shooting almost entirely in London.The main reason for that unusual arrangement, according to pic’s American producer Donna Gigliotti, is casting. All of the principal actors chosen by Paltrow — Martin Freeman, Sienna Miller, Simon Pegg and big sis Gwyneth — reside in Blighty, even though the script didn’t originally require any of the characters to be British. Add in a U.K. tax deal, Gigliotti’s extensive experience of making British films such as “Shakespeare in Love” and “Emma,” plus the fact that Freeman’s imminent paternity meant he didn’t want to work away from home, and shooting in London made the most sense. L.A.-based sales outfit Inferno Distribution put together the $15 million financing and has pre-sold U.K. and Spanish rights to Momentum Pictures. Production starts at Ealing Studios in early November, with just a few days of Gotham lensing planned for January. Pic is a wry comedy about one man’s search for perfection. Freeman, who made his name in “The Office” before moving to the bigscreen in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” will play the lead as a former pop star reduced to writing advertising jingles and suffering a premature midlife crisis. Miller is in advanced negotiations to play a dual role as his love interest in the real world who takes on a very different, idealized form in his fantasies. Those two worlds finally come together in a surprising fashion. Pegg (“Shaun of the Dead”) and Gwyneth Paltrow play supporting roles. Jake Paltrow, who has directed for TV, originally hooked up with Gigliotti when they were developing Donna Tartt‘s “The Secret History” together for Miramax. They switched to “The Good Night” when that fell through. Rogue sends for Marshall Neil Marshall‘s sophomore movie “The Descent” is the kind of gore-splattered, low-budget British horror film that usually gets the local critics reaching for their scented handkerchiefs in disgust. But when it was released in July, this claustrophobic story of six women who stumble across something nasty on a caving trip got arguably the best reviews of any Brit pic this year. Box office was badly damaged by its opening the day after the real-life horror of the London bus and tube bombings. Nonetheless, the 35-year-old Marshall, a former film editor who made his directing debut in 2002 with the crudely effective werewolf shocker “Dog Soldiers,” has clearly marked himself out from the crowd of Brit genre wannabes. Now the message has reached Hollywood, even though “The Descent” won’t open Stateside until mid-2006 and “Dog Soldiers” never made it into U.S. theaters. Universal’s genre unit Rogue Pictures has joined forces with L.A.-based production and financing outfit Crystal Sky Pictures to back Marshall’s next project, “Doomsday.” The pic, budgeted at $15 million-$20 million, is a futuristic action thriller with political overtones, set in northern England, where Marshall lives, and Scotland. It’s the first pitch to be snapped up by Rogue’s new production prexy Andrew Rona since he started four weeks ago. Rona has struck an aggressive development deal to get the pic into production next spring, with Rogue taking worldwide rights. Crystal Sky, whose prexy Benedict Carver pitched the project in tandem with Marshall’s rep Marc Helwig, will act as producer, and has the option to co-finance. “It’s an opportunity for Neil to make a film with Hollywood production values but still essentially a British film,” Carver says. “This really represents what I want to do at Rogue, taking a bet on an exciting new filmmaker who has made one or two interesting low-budget films and giving him a chance to step up in terms of budget and scope,” Rona explains. “Hopefully this will be the first of many movies we will make with him.”
Want Entertainment News First? Sign up for Variety Alerts and Newsletters!