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.

More Film

  • Come as You Are review

    SXSW Film Review: 'Come as You Are'

    The rare remake that’s actually a slight improvement on its predecessor, Richard Wong’s “Come as You Are” translates Geoffrey Enthoven’s 2011 Belgian “Hasta la Vista” to middle America. Other changes are less substantial, but this seriocomedy has a less formulaic feel than the original while remaining a crowd-pleasing buddy pic-caper with a soft-pedaled minority empowerment [...]

  • Strange Negotiations review

    SXSW Film Review: 'Strange Negotiations'

    In a era when some mainstream entertainers have transitioned to targeting faith-based audiences, David Bazan is moving in the other direction. The gifted songwriter’s ersatz band Pedro the Lion was perhaps the most successful Christian indie rock act of its time, and the first to significantly cross over to secular fans. Then he ditched that persona (and [...]

  • Bluebird review

    SXSW Film Review: ‘Bluebird’

    As affectionate as a love letter but as substantial as an infomercial, Brian Loschiavo’s “Bluebird” may be of most interest to casual and/or newly converted country music fans who have occasionally wondered about the songwriters behind the songs. There’s a better than even-money chance that anyone who’s a loyal and longtime aficionado of the musical [...]

  • ‘Wonder Park’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad

    ‘Wonder Park’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending for the Fourth Week in a Row

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Paramount Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the fourth week in row with “Wonder Park.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.18 million through Sunday for 1,718 national [...]

  • Michael B. Jordan Jordan Vogt-Roberts

    Film News Roundup: Michael B. Jordan, Jordan Vogt-Roberts Team for Monster Movie

    In today’s film news roundup, Michael B. Jordan is producing a creature feature, billiards champ Cisero Murphy is getting a movie, the sixth Terminator movie gets a title, and Graham King receives an honor. PROJECT UNVEILED New Regency and Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society are partnering on an untitled monster movie from “Kong: Skull Island” [...]

  • Nicolas Cage

    Nicolas Cage to Star in Martial Arts Actioner 'Jiu Jitsu'

    Nicolas Cage will star in the martial arts actioner “Jiu Jitsu,” based on the comic book of the same name. The cast will also include Alain Moussi, who stars in the “Kickboxer” franchise. Dimitri Logothetis is producing with Martin Barab and directing from a script he wrote with Jim McGrath. Highland Film Group is handling [...]

  • Chinese success of Thai film "Bad

    Chinese, Thai Shingles Pact for Co-Production Fund at FilMart

    A deal to establish a 100 million yuan ($14.9 million) co-production fund between China and Thailand was struck at FilMart on Tuesday to help launch TV and film projects that will appeal to Chinese and Southeast Asian audience. The deal that was struck by China’s Poly Film Investment Co., TW Capital from Thailand and Thai [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content