EXCLUSIVE: There are currently three competing Hatton Garden projects about the elderly London thieves who pulled off what’s billed as the biggest burglary in English legal history. One of them hails from producer Arthur Sarkissian and Chinese producing partner Bruno Wu. That version has now set Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais to pen the script for a UK fall shoot under the provisional title The Hatton Garden Story. The partners, who are producing under their Peak Time Entertainment banner, have also teamed with the chief prosecutor in the case, Philip Evans, who will serve as technical advisor. Peak Time previously acquired the rights to Dan Bilefksy’s New York Times reportage on the trial.
Clement and La Frenais are Emmy winners whose credits include such TV series as Tracey Takes On and Spies Of Warsaw. Their feature credits include Roger Donaldson’s 2008 The Bank Job; DreamWorks’ 2006 animated film Flushed Away; and Alan Parker’s 1991 The Commitments for which they shared an Adapted Screenplay BAFTA.
Sarkissian tells me the pair is just about to deliver a finished script. He is out to directors and cast and is aiming to have those locked within the next 30 days. Fully financed, the film will incorporate stage and location shooting in the UK.
The competing Hatton Garden projects include Ronnie Thompson’s The Hatton Garden Job which went into production earlier this year; and Working Title’s high-profile James Marsh-directed project that’s based on the Vanity Fair article “The Over the Hill Mob.”
The real-life heist saw four men, aged 58-76, use their senior citizenship as a disguise to pull off the daring robbery in April 2015. The quartet made off with $21M in goods. Once caught, Scotland Yard revealed that the career criminals had spent almost three years planning the crime, recruited four others to help them, and all worked over four days straight to break into the London vault of the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit in the eponymous jewelry district.
Sarkissian’s credits include While You Were Sleeping, the Rush Hour franchise and STX’s upcoming The Foreigner starring Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan. He tells me, “Dick and Ian are perfect for this. They could have been two criminals themselves. I love their voice and couldn’t be happier.” He adds, “Only a pair of Englishmen could capture the absurdities of this tale and bring that nuanced, unmatched wit to the screen that the story commands.”
With regard to prosecutor Evans, Sarkissian says he spent time with him in London which was “extremely important because I got much more that is not out in the open which was very helpful to the project.” Given the competing projects, however, Sarkissian is reticent to put too fine a point on how the film will unfold.
Wu, the Chinese businessman whose Seven Stars Entertainment owns nearly 60 film production companies and has a Tetris feature in the pipeline, is also working with Sarkissian on the Titanic Code project. He says of Hatton Garden, “You couldn’t make this story up and with a cast of senior culprits the script is that much more entertaining.”