×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pathe Boards ‘The Duke’ From ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ Writer Nicholas Martin

Pathe's 'Florence Foster Jenkins' stars Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant

LONDON — Nicholas Martin, the writer of Stephen Frears’ “Florence Foster Jenkins,” is attached to write the screenplay for “The Duke.” Pathe is handling international sales on “The Duke,” is co-producing the pic, and will distribute it in the U.K., France and Switzerland.

“The Duke,” which is being produced by Nicky Bentham of Neon Films, is a bittersweet true story about the value of family and the price of art. Set in 1961, it centers on Kempton Bunton, a 57-year-old bus driver and would-be playwright from Newcastle, who stole Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from London’s National Gallery.

Kempton had been outraged that the British government had spent a fortune buying the Goya for the nation at a time when so many faced hardship. He sent a ransom note saying he would return the painting on condition that the government granted every senior citizen a free television license.

But no one took his demand seriously. Four years after the theft, Kempton returned the painting and handed himself in. At his trial, he charmed the jury and was found not guilty on the grounds that he had never intended to keep or personally profit from taking the painting.

It was an astonishing result, but perhaps what is more astonishing is that the version of events presented by Kempton at his trial was untrue. The court had provided him with a stage on which to perform his greatest work of fiction — a tale that was spun to protect his wife and to save his son.

Neon is producing the pic in collaboration with the Bunton family.

Pathe releases “Florence Foster Jenkins,” starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, on May 6 in the U.K.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Beyonce Knowles'The Lion King' film premiere,

    ABC Announces Behind-the-Scenes Special for Beyoncé's 'Lion King' LP

    ABC has announced a new behind-the-scenes look into the making of Beyoncé’s “The Lion King: The Gift” LP, which is set to air September 16 on ABC at 10 p.m. EST. Titled “Beyoncé Presents: Making the Gift,” the new hour-long special will allow viewers to “experience the process” behind the “Lion King” companion album, according [...]

  • Jason Lei Howden, Samara Weaving and

    Daniel Radcliffe On Acting With Weapons Nailed To Your Hands

    How did “Guns Akimbo” director and writer Jason Lei Howden convince Daniel Radcliffe to play a character with guns nailed to his hands? Easy, he sent him the script. Radcliffe joined Howden and “Ready or Not’s” breakout star Samara Weaving in the Variety’s Toronto Film Festival studio, presented by AT&T to talk the limits of [...]

  • Box Office: It Chapter Two Maintains

    Box Office: 'It: Chapter Two' Continues International Reign With $47 Million

    Pennywise’s reign of terror hasn’t wavered: Warner Bros.’ “It Chapter Two” maintained first place on box office charts, led by another strong showing overseas. The sequel, based on Stephen King’s horror novel, generated another $47 million at the international box office for a foreign tally of $169 million. After two weeks of release, “It Chapter [...]

  • First still from the set of

    Taika Waititi’s 'Jojo Rabbit' Wins Top Prize at Toronto Film Festival Awards

    Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” has won the coveted People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The honor positions the film for a potential Oscar run and bolsters its awards chances. That’s good news for Fox Searchlight, which must have been disappointed by the lackluster critical reception for the movie, a dark comedy [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Box Office: 'Hustlers' Racks Up Solid $33 Million Debut, 'Goldfinch' Bombs

    “Hustlers” rolled in the Benjamins this weekend, collecting $33.2 million when it debuted in 3,250 North American theaters. Boosted by rave reviews and stellar word of mouth, “Hustlers” beat expectations and now ranks as the best start for an STX film, along with the biggest live-action opening weekend for stars Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu. [...]

  • German Cinema Is Diverse, But Is

    German Cinema Is Varied, But Is It Too Risk Averse?

    One of the strengths of German cinema is its diversity, says Simone Baumann, managing director of the national film promotion agency German Films. As well as the three films at Toronto directed by female German helmers, there was also German filmmaker Thomas Heise’s documentary film essay “Heimat Is a Space in Time.” Then there were [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content