ROME — The German-American duo known as Siegfried and Roy, whose magic show with its trademark white tigers was one of the oldest and most popular in Las Vegas for more than two decades, will be getting the biopic treatment.
UFA Group, which is FremantleMedia’s German production arm, has secured film rights for the biopic, to be directed by Philipp Stoelzl and scripted by Jan Berger, who both worked on UFA’s epic “The Physician.”
The rights deal was brokered by UFA producer and co-CEO Nico Hofmann. FremantleMedia International will handle international distribution.
The “Siegfried & Roy Show” was a major money-maker for MGM Mirage, the company that owns the Mirage Casino and Resort, where it was based between 1990 and 2003. The show was shut down after a white Bengal tiger called Mantecore grabbed Roy Horn by the neck and dragged him offstage during a performance. Roy survived the attack but was partially paralyzed by it.
During its run, the show was usually sold out and generated a reported $44 million in annual revenues, attracting nearly 400,000 people a year.
“We’re thrilled and extremely honored that Nico Hofmann – Germany’s leading producer – wants to film the story of our lives,” the duo, whose full names are Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn, said in a statement. “We think we’ve found great partners in Nico, Philipp and Jan because they show a real understanding of us, our work and our career.”
The two performers will take on an executive producer role through their S&R Enterprises shingle.
“Personally, the prospect of working with Siegfried and Roy is the fulfillment of a long-held dream,” said Hofmann.
“The life work of Siegfried and Roy derives from an almost inexhaustible store of energy and creativity,” he added. “This is the story of two men who set new, never-repeated standards in the tough world of show business.”
“Covering all their successes, desires and dreams is a wonderful gift that comes with a special set of challenges for me as a director,” said Stoelzl, who noted that “working out how to present their stage shows” will pose a particular challenge, as well as “depicting the unbelievable physical control and speed with which they worked with the big cats.”
Fischbacher and Horn met on a cruise ship in 1960, where they developed their first joint show, driven by their shared passion for the art of magic and illusion, according to the upcoming biopic’s press notes. They got their big international break in 1966 at a charity show in Monte Carlo. From 1990, they had their own show at the MGM Mirage.
Pixomondo, the VFX outfit that works on “Game of Thrones,” will handle visual effects.
The Siegfried and Roy biopic marks UFA fiction’s latest project with international scope, following “Generation War,” “Naked,” and Cold War-set series “Deutschland 83,” which has sold to more than 50 territories and won several prizes.