EXCLUSIVE: Black Bear International has launched international sales on Fred & Ginger, the musical about the passionate and explosive relationship between Hollywood dance legends, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
The project was formerly set up at Amazon but is hitting the open market with Black Bear and financier 30West (The Triangle Of Sadness) now aboard. UTA Independent Film Group and 30WEST will co-rep U.S. rights.
As was previously known, BAFTA-winner Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) will play Astaire, the technically-driven perfectionist, opposite Margaret Qualley (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) as the naturally gifted Rogers. The film is aiming to start production later this year.
Jonathan Entwistle (The End of the F*cking World) will direct from a script by writer Arash Amel (The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare).
Hollywood icons Astaire and Rogers starred in ten movies together, starting with Flying Down to Rio in 1933 and ending with The Barkleys of Broadway in 1949. The duo revolutionized the musical film genre and dazzled audiences with their inventive flair. This movie focuses on a life-defining point in their early careers when their contrasting dance styles and competitive rivalry threatened to destroy their legendary partnership.
Rocketman star Bell showed his skills as a dancer in his breakout performance in 2000’s Billy Elliot. Qualley has performed as a dancer in FX’s Fosse/Verdon and the viral Kenzo perfume ad directed by Spike Jonze.
Grammy-winning music producer Marius de Vries (La La Land) will work alongside Tony-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon (MJ the Musical) and Grammy-winning songwriters Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear and Emmy-nominated Mark Sonnenblick to recreate the music and dance numbers the pair are famous for.
Fred Berger (La La Land) and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones (Bad Education) of Automatik are producing with Max Minghella (Teen Spirit) along with Bell, Qualley, Amel, and Entwistle. 30WEST will executive-produce and fully finance.
“Margaret and Jamie were born to portray this legendary dance duo,” said producer Fred Berger.“We’re so excited to give people a big joyous event – brimming with spectacle and heart – that will leave you smiling, crying, and dancing out of the theater.”
“Nothing is more important to buyers around the world than life-affirming and original entertainment that feels truly theatrical,” added John Friedberg, President, Black Bear International. “Fred & Ginger answers all those needs and more. It is a phenomenal story, with pitch-perfect casting and we couldn’t be more excited to bring this to market, along with our close friends at Automatik and 30WEST.”
As often happens, there is a ‘rival’ Fred Astaire project in the works. Sony has a biopic of the dancer with Tom Holland attached to star. THR had an update today that Paddington filmmaker Paul King is aboard to direct that one, though a start date seemingly isn’t imminent. Lee Hall is working on the script.
Bell will next be seen in Andrew Haigh’s Strangers alongside Paul Mescal and Claire Foy, and in Anthony Mandler’s Surrounded for MGM.
Qualley most recently starred in Netflix series Maid. Upcoming, she will star in Sanctuary, alongside Christopher Abbott, for NEON; Ethan Coen’s Untitled Project for Focus Features; Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things and And, both for Searchlight; and The Substance, for Working Title and Universal.
Qualley is represented by UTA, and Sloane, Offer, Weber, & Dern. Bell is repped by UTA and 3 Arts Entertainment and Sloane, Offer, Weber, & Dern. Entwistle is represented by CAA, 42, and Grandview. Amel is represented by Grandview and Myman Greenspan. Wheeldon is repped by CAA. Sonnenblick is represented by CAA. Barlow and Bear are represented by CAA and Richard Kraft at Kraft-Engel; Barlow is also represented by David Fererria at Mark Music & Media Law; Bear is also represented by Adam Mersel at Immersive Management and Ken Hertz at Hertz Lichtenstein & Young.
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