New horizons

Scope of pix expands in BBC's slate

BBC Films is spreading its creative wings, with a slate of new development projects that spans a much wider range of genres and budgets than ever before.

Highlights include a $20 million biopic of Mary, Queen of Scots; an $8 million family film based on Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen”; “The Grand Tour” based on an idea from Judi Dench and Anna Massey; and a possible “Dr. Who” movie that is in early discussions with HAL Films.

BBC Films chief David Thompson also says he is looking for “some kind of rolling financing arrangement” with one or more partners, possibly including U.S. distribs.

BBC Films has around $16 million a year to invest in movies, and its larger-budget projects such as “Mary Queen of Scots,” scripted by Jimmy McGovern (“Priest”), will be heavily reliant on other financing partners.

Also on the slate are two projects adapted from Patricia Highsmith novels — “Cry of the Owl,” which Beeban Kidron is in line to direct, and “People Who Knock on the Door.” Both are written by Peter Berry.

Colin Bateman, writer of the Ulster comedy thrillers “Divorcing Jack” and “Crossmaheart,” is developing “Thanks for the Memories.”

The idea of doing a movie based on the BBC’s classic series “Dr. Who” arose only a week ago, Thompson says, reflecting a new drive to mine the BBC’s archives. He says HAL, the London-based production venture backed by Miramax, has expressed interest in the idea.

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