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Production delayed on ‘Sweeney’

Fox Searchlight doubts international prospects

Fox Searchlight has arrested production on Brit cop thriller “The Sweeney” following concerns about its international prospects.

Project was being produced by DNA Films, the U.K. venture backed by Fox Searchlight, and had been set to start lensing in the next few weeks.

DNA reps said Fox execs are believed to have had doubts the $16 million pic, while looking a sure-fire hit in Blighty because it’s based on a cult 1970s TV series, would sell elsewhere without a major star.

Thesps being considered for the main roles of a seasoned detective and his younger partner were Ray Winstone and the up-and-coming Michael Fassbender.

Rather than continue with pre-production in the hopes of nabbing a big name at the last minute, Fox and DNA mutually agreed to step back and wait. They are still hoping to go into production next year. Cult writer-director Nick Love remains attached to direct.

Pic is about the Flying Squad, a London police unit dedicated to fighting violent crime. The TV show, starring John Thaw and Dennis Waterman, was to U.K. auds what “Miami Vice” was to U.S. viewers.

The unit was known locally by the Cockney rhyming slang term for Flying Squad — Sweeney Todd.

The seminal show, created by Ian Kennedy Martin who is involved in the pic, helped invent the blueprint for gritty cop dramas in the U.K., with its salty dialogue and tough action scenes.

“We’re confident we’ll get the film made next year,” DNA production chief Allon Reich told Daily Variety.

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