Momentum building for ‘Drake’ in U.K.

Leigh's pic might not be shoo-in for Cannes

LONDON — Momentum Pictures is in final negotiations to acquire U.K. rights to Mike Leigh’s latest movie, freshly titled “Vera Drake.”

Pic, financed by StudioCanal, the U.K. Film Council’s Premiere Fund and Inside Track, stars Imelda Staunton as a kindly abortionist in 1950s England whose illicit activities lead to tragedy.

Following Leigh’s usual habit, it was shot as “Untitled ’03,” and only given its title (the name of Staunton’s character) upon completion.

Leigh’s movies have had a mixed track record at the U.K. box office in recent years. His last film, “All or Nothing,” released by UGC Films, was a disappointment, but “Topsy-Turvy” and “Secrets and Lies” were local hits.

“Vera Drake” is widely expected to receive its world premiere at Cannes. But sources suggest that the fest’s selectors, who have stated that there will no longer be an automatic place for festival vets such as Leigh, are still debating the pic.

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