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Studio Babelsberg boards ‘The Book Thief’

Pic stars Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson

BERLIN

Studio Babelsberg has boarded Fox 2000’s adaptation of Markus Zusak’s bestselling World War II-era novel “The Book Thief,” starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson.

Directed by Brian Percival, who has helmed multiple episodes of “Downton Abbey,” the film centers on a young girl, played by Sophie Nelisse, who discovers her passion for books while living with a foster family in a town near Munich.

The pic is set to start production this month at Studio Babelsberg outside Berlin, and on location in the German capital, the surrounding state of Brandenburg and the Saxon city of Goerlitz.

Regional funder Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg has pledged Euros 450,000 ($600,637) toward the production, which is also eligible for federal coin.

Redmond Morris, who was also in Germany with “The Reader,” and Karen Rosenfelt are producing, along with Studio Babelsberg.

It’s one of a slew of international projects coming to Babelsberg this year. The studio is producing Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which is shooting at the studio and around the country, including the historic Goerlitz.

George Clooney’s WWII drama “The Monuments Men,” in which the director stars with Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon and Daniel Craig, is set to start production in Berlin next month. Also set to roll here in the coming weeks is Mike Newell’s “Reykjavik,” with Michael Douglas and Christoph Waltz as Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, respectively.

The recently wrapped “Beauty and the Beast,” helmed by Christophe Gans, and starring Lea Seydoux and Vincent Cassel, also shot at Studio Babelsberg.

Meanwhile, local helmer Christian Petzold is likewise focusing on Germany’s wartime past with his next project, “Phoenix,” about a death camp survivor who returns to the demolished German capital after the war. Nina Hoss and Ronald Zehrfeld, who co-starred in the helmer’s award-winning East German drama “Barbara,” re-team on “Phoenix,” which has secured some $535,000 in Medienboard funding.

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