‘Great’ gig for Bening

Bankside unveils Armstrong pic at Berlin

Annette Bening is set to topline director Gillian Armstrong’s “The Great,” based on the life of Catherine the Great, which Bankside Films is unveiling to buyers at the Berlinale.

Bening will play the Russian empress in the pic, penned by Tony McNamara and produced by Marian Macgowan of Oz’s Macgowan Films and Lago Films’ Marco Mehlitz.

“The Great,” which has already pre-sold to Icon Film Distribution in Australia and New Zealand, is scheduled to lense in September.

Bankside will also sell U.K. producer Damian Jones’ (“The Iron Lady”) 18th century-set “Belle,” inspired by the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle who was the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of John Lindsay, the nephew of the Earl of Mansfield.

Amma Asante (“A Way of Life”) will helm the pic, which is casting and skedded to roll in July.

Also on the Bankside slate is Mat Whitecross’ “Spike Island,” about five teen boys who travel to Spike Island in summer 1990 to see their rock heroes, the Stone Roses. Revolver is distributing in Blighty.

Bankside is also selling Helen Mirren starrer “The Door,” helmed by Istvan Szabo, which is having its market world preem at the EFM.

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