You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Universal signs up for more English

Atkinson returns for Working Title sequels

Universal Pictures is bringing back bumbling British spy Johnny English for a follow-up assignment.

Studio and U.K.-based shingle Working Title have quickly assembled a sequel to the 2003 comedy starring Rowan Atkinson and are eyeing an August start date.

The 2003 comedy, which cost $40 million to make, earned a mere $28 million Stateside but did huge business overseas for a $161 million worldwide haul.

Move to resuscitate “Johnny English” comes on the heels of U scrapping its dramatic thriller “Cartel” five weeks before production was scheduled to begin, illustrating how the new Universal regime — headed by Donna Langley and Adam Fogelson — is far more amenable to making a safe illustrating how the new Universal regime — headed by Donna Langley and Adam Fogelson — is far more amenable to making a safe comedy than risking edgy fare like “Cartel.”

Universal has suffered a string of disappointments with recent adult-skewing serious pics such as “Public Enemies,” “State of Play” and “Green Zone.” Speculation has been mounting for months that the studio is moving away from weightier projects and has begun to aim for the box office funnybone. Universal greenlit two pics just before Easter, both comedies: an untitled Kristen Wiig starrer being produced by Judd Apatow and the Ryan Reynolds-Jason Bateman vehicle “The Change-Up.”

“Johnny English 2,” which sees Atkinson reprising his role as the Brit buffoon, fits into a similar mold and will likely be made in the same budget range as the first.

Oliver Parker (“St. Trinian’s”) is onboard to direct.

Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are producing, and Debra Hayward is overseeing the project for the company. Former Working Title exec Chris Clark is also producing.

Hamish McColl, who wrote Atkinson starrer “Mr. Bean’s Holiday,” penned the screenplay.

Will Davies and Atkinson are exec producing.

More Film

  • Robert Smith, Longtime Executive at DuArt

    Robert Smith, Longtime Executive at New York's DuArt Film Labs, Dies at 88

    Robert Smith, a longtime executive with New York’s DuArt Film Labs, died Jan. 11 in Montvale, N.J. He was 88. Smith spent some 62 years with DuArt, the film processing and post-production facility founded in 1922 in the penthouse of an automobile garage in Midtown. Smith rose to president of DuArt before retiring in 2015. [...]

  • Bird Box

    Los Angeles On-Location Feature Filming Surges 12.2% in 2018

    On-location feature filming in Greater Los Angeles expanded impressively in 2018, gaining 12.2% to 4,377 shooting days, according to FilmL.A. Production activity for feature films rose 15.5% to 1,078 shooting days during the fourth quarter, with 146 days coming from projects receiving California tax credits — including Netflix’s “Bird Box,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a [...]

  • 'Ghostbusters': First Look at Jason Reitman's

    Watch the First Teaser for Jason Reitman's 'Ghostbusters' Sequel

    If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, it’s time to watch a teaser for Jason Reitman’s “Ghostbusters” forthcoming film. Sony Pictures released a first look at the upcoming movie, a sequel to the 1984 classic. The footage shows a glimpse of the memorable station wagon Ecto-1. The studio announced on Tuesday that the wheels are [...]

  • Anne Hathaway

    Anne Hathaway to Star in Robert Zemeckis' 'The Witches' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Anne Hathaway has closed a deal to star as the Grand High Witch in Robert Zemeckis and Warner Bros.’ “The Witches” adaptation. Variety first reported that Hathaway was holding the offer for both that and “Sesame Street,” and at the time, scheduling for both films were holding up dealmaking. With those issues settled, Hathaway is [...]

  • Film Ratings Overhauled in the U.K.,

    Film Ratings Overhauled in the U.K. With Tougher Restrictions on Sexual Content

    The body that oversees film ratings in the U.K. is tightening its age restrictions and giving movies with certain types of sexual content older age ratings. The British Board of Film Classification said the changes were in response to public demand after a consultation that took in the views of over 10,000 people in the [...]

  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame

    'Hunchback of Notre Dame' Live-Action Reboot in the Works at Disney

    Disney is in early development on a live-action “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” movie, based on Disney’s animated film and Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel “Notre-Dame de Paris.” Playwright David Henry Hwang is attached to write the script, with Mandeville Films and Josh Gad set to produce. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz will pen the music. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content