EXCLUSIVE: Walter Parkes, producer of Men In Black 3, is remaking the classic Carol Reed film The Fallen Idol, written by Graham Greene. David Farr, who co-wrote the screenplay for Joe Wright’s Hanna, is writing the screenplay. Farr is associate director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, who’s also written episodes of TV’s Spooks (MI5). Parkes and his partner Laurie MacDonald are putting The Fallen Idol through their Parkes/MacDonald/Imagenation deal with the Abu Dhabi Media Company. They’re developing the project with France’s Studio Canal, which owns the rights. That way, Parkes tells me, they’ll have a script, director, cast and budget before going out to financiers. In other words, a package as opposed to a development deal, he says.
Greene and Reed made The Fallen Idol in 1948, the year before they filmed the classic The Third Man. The original tells the story of a six-year-old boy who idolises his parents’ butler. One day he sees the unhappily married butler with his girlfriend. His loss of innocence is compounded when, trying to save the butler from a murder charge, he unwittingly makes things worse. It’s a subtle and original story that, Parkes admits, these days is increasingly hard to finance. “This kind of adult drama is an endangered species in Hollywood,” he tells me.
Parkes is updating the story to present-day India and telling the story through the eyes of an 11-year-old American. The boy’s family will live in a large colonial mansion run by the English couple. That way, the world which the boy explores outside the house – drab post-war London in the original – will be much more alluring and potentially dangerous. Making the boy older makes his sexual awakening more potent, Parkes believes. The butler could also be having an affair with a local girl, breaking another taboo. “We thought that the echoes of the class issues depicted in the original short story and film could resonate in contemporary India,” Parkes says.
For those who howl that you can’t improve on an original, it’s worth remembering that Greene thought the film ending of Brighton Rock was better than his novel. Terence Rattigan co-wrote that screenplay. It’ll be interesting to see how Rowan Joffe ends his new version of Brighton Rock, now in post.
Parkes Macdonald/Imagenation is also developing Richard Matheson’s Earthbound; The Museum of SuperNatural History, based on a website created by Ernest Lupinacci; and Eat, Sleep, Poop, a comedy about a young couple dealing with their newborn baby. Imagenation is backing Parkes/Macdonald with an initial $10 million worth of development funding. The fund invests in future Parkes/MacDonald projects developed under their first-look deal with DreamWorks, or with other distributors.
Meanwhile, Parkes and Macdonald are prepping the 3D Men in Black 3, which Columbia Pictures will release on May 25, 2012.