Director Brian Gilbert and his producing partners Marc and Peter Samuelson, the team behind the Oscar-nominated “Tom and Viv,” have signed a two-year, first-look deal with Miramax Films for theatrical movies, and another pact with Showtime Networks Inc. to develop telepix.
Gilbert and Samuelson Prods., which is based in London and Los Angeles, have also secured development finance for their slate of feature projects from British Screen Finance, the semi-public U.K. film agency, and the European Script Fund, part of the EC’s Media program.
The partners have unveiled details of eight theatrical projects being developed under these deals, including three that Gilbert will direct and five on which he will act as co-producer with the Samuelson brothers. The development slate includes British, American, Australian and Irish projects, with budgets ranging from $3 million to $25 million.
The three men worked together for the first time on “Tom and Viv,” for which actresses Miranda Richardson and Rosemary Harris received Oscar nominations. The film, distributed in the U.S. by Miramax, was also Samuelson Prods.’ first full-scale feature, although both London-based Marc and L.A.-based Peter separately had been involved in a number of earlier productions.
“With the L.A. office and the London office, we are trying to create a substantial British- American production company, a bridge across the Atlantic built upon the four pillars of these development deals,” said Peter Samuelson.
“Hawksmoor,” to be directed by Gilbert, is based on the novel by Peter Ackroyd, and is being scripted by “Tom and Viv” screenwriter Michael Hastings. It is an $18 million psychological thriller set in London, in which the present is haunted by a malevolent 18th-century figure. Production is tentatively scheduled for the end of this year.
This summer Gilbert is expecting to direct a biopic based on “a controversial historical figure,” based on a bestselling biography, with a script being written by Julian Mitchell (“Another Country”) . The identity of the subject is being kept secret for now, because other companies also have films in development about the same person.
The Samuelsons are being equally cagey about the third project lined up for Gilbert, based on a classic historical adventure novel, which is being scripted by Adrian Hodges, co-writer of “Tom and Viv.”
The projects that Gilbert will co-produce with the Samuelsons start with “Crime of the Century,” an original screenplay by first-timer Shani Grewal. The film is a $3 million coming-of-age pic set among the Indian community in London’s Southall district at the end of the 1970s.
“Girls’ Night Out” is being adapted by London-based Australian writer Kathy Lette from her comic novel about the escapes of a group of Sydney girls after their last day of school.
“Lonesome Joe” is a $10 million American project to be directed by Jonathan Prince (“Camp Nowhere”) from a screenplay by John Sandell. The film is set during World War II, and is the story of a boy who’s befriended by a hobo after losing his father in the war.
“This Is the Sea,” a co-production with Ireland’s Pembridge Prods., is written and directed by Mary McGuckian (“Words Upon the Windowpane”). This $4 million project is a love story across the religious divide in post-cease-fire Belfast.
Finally, Samuelson Prods, has just acquired film rights to “Roofworld,” a fantasy novel by Christopher Fuller about rival gangs who live and fight on London’s roofs without any contact with the world below. The film, with an estimated budget of $25 million, is under discussion with Miramax’s Dimension division, and the plan is to simultaneously develop a CD-ROM game with Miramax Interactive.
There are no projects ready to be announced under the Showtime deal, which gives the pay web first option on North American TV rights.
In a separate venture, the Samuelsons have entered into a partnership with Tiger Aspect Prods., a leading U.K. producer of TV comedy, to develop British film comedies.
Despite a disappointing box office performance and mixed critical reception, “Tom and Viv” already has repaid all its investors and made three payouts to its net-profit participants.