Tom Rothman’s TriStar Productions has teamed with BBC Films to greenlight “The Lady in the Van” starring “Downton Abbey’s” Maggie Smith.
The pic is an adaptation of Alan Bennett’s West End hit with Smith reprising her role of Miss Shepherd.
The play was based on the true story of an eccentric woman of uncertain origins, who “temporarily” parked her broken down van in Bennett’s London driveway and proceeded to live there for the next 15 years. Alex Jennings will play Bennett.
Nicholas Hytner will direct from a script by Bennett. The two have previously teamed on “The Madness of King George” and “The History Boys.”
Damian Jones and Kevin Loader will produce, along with Hytner. Miles Ketley and Charles Moore will serve as executive producers.
TriStar won the film rights in a competitive situation and will distribute worldwide, with the BBC taking the first television window in its territory and making an additional investment in the negative.
“’The Crucible,’ ‘The Madness of King George’ and ‘The History Boys’ are among the films in my career of which I am the most proud,” Rothman said. “Nick is rarely gifted and the chance to work with him and Alan again is sweet indeed. They make brilliant things. And Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings bring such intelligence to glorious life.”
The pic marks the third film Rothman and TriStar have greenlit since the start of 2014. The other two include “Ricki and the Flash,” directed by Jonathan Demme, written by Diablo Cody, and starring Meryl Streep, and Robert Zemeckis’ untitled film based on Philippe Petit’s memoir “To Reach the Clouds,” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte LeBon and James Badge Dale.
After nearly six months of being in his new post, Rothman said he could not be happier to in a place that are able to make movies like the ones they are doing now.
“It’s been Incredibly invigorating and exciting,” Rothman told Variety. “What I find is in the community, and I believe this going to be true for the audience, is that there is a hunger for the this type of original material that we’re seeking out, and we’re having a lot of fun doing it.”