In a mark of how challenging the environment for upscale, adult-oriented drama has become, Universal Pictures has put Working Title’s Cate Blanchett starrer “Indian Summer” on ice.
Helmer Joe Wright had been prepping the pic, an adaptation of Alex von Tunzelmann’s book about the last days of Britain’s colonial rule of India and the symbolic end of Blighty’s status as a world superpower.
Blanchett was cast as Edna Mountbatten, wife of Lord Mountbatten, who was the last viceroy of the British Indian Empire and oversaw the country’s transition to independence in 1947.
Wright had hoped to begin lensing on location in India early next year.
Universal is thought to have balked at the budget, believed to be $30 million-$40 million. Wright briefly considered making the project for under $30 million — the budget level at which Working Title has full greenlight power — before deciding to put it on hold and wait for more favorable market conditions.
Another factor in the decision was the logistical difficulties of filming a major production in India as well as creative differences over how much to emphasize the alleged love affair between Blanchett’s character and Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first post-independence prime minister.
“We were in between a rock and a hard place,” Wright said. “The Indian government wanted us to make less of the love story while the studio wanted us to make more of the love story.”
Both Wright and Blanchett will remain attached to “Indian Summer” for the foreseeable future.
Now Wright must decide what he will direct next. Before signing on to “Indian Summer,” the helmer had been circling a project about the influx of Afro-Caribbean immigrants to West London in the late 1940s. While that remains Wright’s passion project, it is unlikely to be his next feature.
Blighty’s Working Title, which made its name producing boffo romantic comedies including “Notting Hill,” is likely to focus increasingly on more mainstream projects instead of edgier fare, such as the recent “State of Play” and “Frost/Nixon.”
Working Title last week inked to produce a Ryan Reynolds romantic comedy and it’s also developing a third installment to the successful “Bridget Jones” series, starring Renee Zellweger.