Director in talks for film on civil rights event

Helmer Lee Daniels is in advanced negotiations to direct “Selma,” which will trace the historic 1965 march in the Alabama town that marked the political and emotional peak of the civil rights movement.

Daniels, whose “Precious” has received lavish critical kudos and is emerging as an indie awards season contender, will be teaming on the project with U.K. producer Christian Colson.

“Selma” will be the first new project for Colson and his shingle Cloud Nine Films ­­ — which launched in March — since the producer enjoyed eight Oscar wins and a worldwide cume of more than $200 million with his indie awards season dark horse, Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire,” earlier this year.

Pathe U.K., with which Colson made a five-year development, production, sales and distribution pact in March, will take the lead on financing, with Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner’s Plan B shingle co-producing.

Paul Webb (“Lincoln”) has penned the much-buzzed-about script. Lensing is set to take place by early spring. No cast has been attached yet, and the project’s final budget is still being sorted out.

Despite a measured start at Colson’s Cloud Nine shingle, the next few months is set to establish him as one of the U.K.’s most prolific producers.

He has a trio of projects in the can dating back to his days at Celador Films. Helmer Jon Harris’ horror sequel “The Descent Part 2,” director Tom Harper’s dark coming-of-age tale “The Scouting Book for Boys,” as well as Brit director Neil Marshall’s historical epic “Centurion,” are all set for release in 2010. “Centurion,” set in 87 A.D. during the Roman invasion of Britain, stars Michael Fassbender, Noel Clarke and Olga Kurylenko.

As previously announced, Boyle and Colson will be reteaming on “127 Hours,” a film about mountaineer Aron Ralston (Variety, Nov. 4). “127 Hours” is financed and distributed by Fox Searchlight in partnership with Pathe. Production will begin next year for a late 2010 release.

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