More than half a century after Claudia Cardinale, Alain Delon and Burt Lancaster strutted down the Cannes red carpet for Luchino Visconti’s “The Leopard,” plans are under way for an English-language TV adaptation of the classic novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.
Italian shingle Indiana Production (“The Leisure Seeker”) has acquired rights to the book in collaboration with Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, its original publisher. They are developing an eight- to 10-episode series being shopped around in Cannes to potential European partners. The project has the full support of Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, who represents the estate of the late Sicilian author.
English-language writers are being recruited to work on the screenplay in tandem with Italian scribes to guarantee the series’ cultural authenticity.
The plan is for the ambitious project, touted as a high-end historical tapestry with production values on the same scale as “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown,” to go into production in 2019 in several Sicilian locations.
“It will be a saga that retells the story of a country during its most profound changes, which involved the whole of Europe,” said Fabrizio Donvito, founding partner at Indiana Production. “As the novel so clearly says: ‘Everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same.’ I can’t think of a more contemporary phrase to describe the times we currently live in.”
The series is being developed by Indiana Production’s Donvito, Marco Cohen and Benedetto Habib with Daniel Campos Pavoncelli and Ilaria Castiglioni acting as producers. Feltrinelli will be involved as a partner in both development and production.
Published posthumously in 1958, “The Leopard” chronicles the changes in Sicilian life and society during the 19th century unification of Italy known as the Risorgimento. It became the top-selling novel in modern Italian literature of its day, translated into more than 40 different languages.
The Visconti film won the 1963 Palme d’Or and was nominated for a best costume design Oscar.
“We have no intention of making a remake of the film, which would be impossible,” said Cohen, adding that the intention is “to work closely with the narrative elements in the book….We are very concerned about being as authentic as possible, and will certainly be shooting in the actual locations described in the novel.”
“We are very pleased with this new production that, more than 50 years after its first publication, will allow audiences to rediscover the modernity of Tomasi di Lampedusa’s masterpiece and make it known to new generations,” said Carlo Feltrinelli, the publisher’s chief exec.
Indiana’s most recent feature film production is the English-language road trip dramedy “The Leisure Seeker” toplining Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland, directed by Paolo Virzì, whose “Like Crazy” was in Cannes last year. Both these Virzì films are Sony Picture Classics releases in the U.S.
The company is also currently in production on “Lui è Tornato,” an Italian remake of German box office hit “Look Who’s Back.”