EXCLUSIVE: Fox Searchlight is in talks to board the feature adaptation of classic comedy Brit TV series Absolutely Fabulous as a co-producer and co-financier with the BBC. Fox also will handle worldwide distribution on the project, which will reunite Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley in their iconic roles as Edina and Patsy. Set in the worlds of fashion and PR, the original TV series debuted in 1992 to immediate acclaim and high ratings, going on to run for a total of six seasons, spread out over two decades.
All of the original main cast is confirmed, including Julia Sawalha as Saffronm the scene-stealing daughter of Edina — and the studious, prim and proper yin to her mother’s smoking, drinking, endlessly irresponsible yang. The project is also expected to include plenty of star cameos.
Production is set to commence October 12 in London. Mandie Fletcher — who helmed a number of the original TV episodes — will direct, with Jon Plowman and Damian Jones producing. Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French and Maureen Vincent are exec producing.
Feature adaptations of classic Brit TV comedies are becoming an increasingly lucrative business. The two big-screen versions of Channel 4 series The Inbetweeners grossed more than $120 million at the UK box office alone. Ab Fab producer Damian Jones has a feature adaptation of iconic BBC laffer Dad’s Army in the pipeline. That project, which has Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Gambon, Bill Nighy and other in the cast, follows the aging Home Guard Platoon dealing with a German spy and female journalist in a pre-D Day UK. Universal is releasing that film. The BBC’s Bad Education also gets a feature run-out, with Jack Whitehall reprising his role as the hapless teacher Mr Wickers. UK distrib Entertainment releases that film August 21, hoping to catch some end of summer good vibes at the box office.
Although Ab Fab plot points are being kept under wraps for now., Saunders has joked that her motivation to make the film were Joanna Lumley telling her they needed to “do it before we die” and a $15,000 bet with longtime collaborator French that she couldn’t get the production off the ground before the end of the year.