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Fox Searchlight finds ‘Hotel’ Participant

Duo will team on John Madden's 'Exotic' feature

Fox Searchlight and Participant Media are off on an exotic jaunt to India.

Companies are partnering on Brit helmer’s John Madden’s “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Dev Patel.

Madden (“Shakespeare in Love”) is set to begin lensing the pic Sunday in India from an adapted script by Ol Parker and Deborah Moggach, based on Moggach’s novel “These Foolish Things.”

Searchlight has worldwide rights to the film, which it will co-finance with Participant and Imagenation Abu Dhabi. Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin of Blueprint Pictures are producing.

Storyline follows a group of British retirees who are lured by enticing advertisements to live out their days in India at the recently restored Marigold Hotel, a former palace. Though their environs turn out to be far less luxurious than billed, their lives are transformed by shared experiences.

“We’re honored to have John at the helm of this film, a director with a deft hand in both comedy and drama,” said Claudia Lewis, Searchlight’s prexy of production, in announcing the project with Participant prexy Ricky Strauss.

Madden will next be in theaters Dec. 29 with Miramax’s “The Debt,” toplined by Wilkinson and Helen Mirren.

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