Mandela biopic’s ‘Long Walk’ to production

Pathe ends Singh pic's 15-year development hell

Pathe has joined Anant Singh’s Distant Horizon to finance and co-produce the long-gestating Nelson Mandela biopic “Long Walk to Freedom.”

The pic, which starts shooting in May after 15 years in development, will be directed by Justin Chadwick with Idris Elba as Mandela.

Singh is producing with David Thompson. Bill Nicholson wrote the script, based on Mandela’s autobiography.

Pathe has acquired distribution rights in the U.K. and France and will handle sales in the rest of the world excluding North America and Africa.

Pathe U.K. managing director Cameron McCracken said, “I have been aware of Anant’s obsession with this project for the past 15 years — it reminded me of Richard Attenborough’s 20-year struggle to get ‘Gandhi’ made. I can think of nothing more satisfying than finally to be part of Anant’s dream becoming a reality. The life of Nelson Mandela deserves to be celebrated on the biggest of screens in the biggest of multiplexes.”

Shooting will take place for 15 weeks in South Africa, including at the infamous Robben Island, Pollsmoor and Victor Verster prisons where Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years.

Singh said, “It will be the largest South African production ever mounted and will provide an opportunity for thousands of South Africans to participate in the making of the film, including the best of South Africa’s acting talent. It has taken many years to find the right actor, however Idris is perfectly cast to play Nelson Mandela — he has the passion, the star power, the African upbringing and, of course, the height.”