Actors sign on for Joffe’s ‘Brighton’

Sam Riley, Carey Mulligan to star in adaptation

Brit thesps Sam Riley and Carey Mulligan are attached to star in helmer Rowan Joffe’s adaptation of Graham Greene’s classic novel “Brighton Rock.”

U.K. distrib Optimum Releasing is exec producing the project with backing from its French owner StudioCanal. Paul Webster is producing for Kudos with BBC Films also onboard as a co-producer. Optimum’s topper Will Clarke and head of production Jenny Borgars receive exec producer credits.

Pic is the first project greenlit out of Optimum’s development slate as it aims to position itself as a significant production player in the U.K. Lensing on the $10 million-$12 million project will start in September.

Greene’s novel, about a young gangster who marries the waitress who witnessed a murder he’s committed in order to keep her quiet, was previously adapted for a 1947 film starring Richard Attenborough and Carol Marsh.

The new project will go back to the source material rather than the film for its inspiration, but it will be set in 1964 rather than the book’s original setting of 1939.

“I’m adapting the book, not remaking the film,” said director Joffe, who is also writing the script. “It is one of the greatest English novels ever written and just like with a Shakespeare play, it deserves to have more than one adaptation.”

Other projects likely to advance in the coming months are Ayub Khan Din’s “Rafta Rafta,” a comedy set among an immigrant Indian community in the U.K., and a remake of French thriller “Le Choc.”

“It makes perfect sense to start our own production entity from a creative control point of view,” Optimum topper Will Clarke told Variety. “This is the first stop on our production journey and it’s great to bring a film with this kind of ambition into the marketplace.”

Pic will subsequently be channeled through StudioCanal’s distribution outlets in France, Germany and Benelux — in addition to the U.K. — as well as through the French major’s international sales arm.