EXCLUSIVE: The Favourite backer Fox Searchlight is lining up a reboot of Julia Roberts’ 1991 hit Sleeping With The Enemy and a feature version of smash James Corden stage play One Man, Two Guvnors as part of a new producing deal with The Iron Lady and Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie producer Damian Jones.
Prolific UK producer Jones is in development on a strong new slate of movies with Searchlight and they have set emerging US filmmaker Nia DaCosta as writer-director of the Sleeping With The Enemy “reimagining.” DaCosta’s 2018 feature debut Little Woods starred Lily James and Tessa Thompson as sisters driven to work outside the law to better their lives.
Based on Nancy Price’s 1987 novel of the same name, thriller Sleeping With The Enemy saw Roberts – then at the height of fame just after Pretty Woman – play a woman trying to escape her abusive husband. The film was a box office hit for Fox taking $175M off a $20M budget. No other details have been released about the reboot at this stage.
The feature version of lauded Tony Award-winner One Man, Two Guvnors, which played in the West End, on Broadway and around the world, is being written by Oli Refson, writer-director of long-running BBC comedy series Uncle. The play’s creator Richard Bean and director Nicholas Hytner will serve as executive producers. James Corden starred in the fast-paced farce from 2011 about the mixed fortunes of a man who finds himself employed by two very different bosses, one of whom is a notorious gangster. No word yet whether Corden will be back.
Meanwhile, Searchlight and Brit producer Jones have set Shakespeare In Love and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel filmmaker John Madden to direct President’s Astrologer about Joan Quigley, the confidante of Nancy and Ronald Reagan. Oz scribe Samantha Strauss, whose credits include Dance Academy and upcoming See-Saw series The End, is writing the screenplay about the San Francisco astrologer who was called on by First Lady Nancy Reagan in 1981 after John Hinckley’s attempted assassination of the President, and stayed on as the White House astrologer in secret until being outed in 1988. The film will focus on the relationship between Quigley and the First Lady.
Also on the slate is an untitled murder mystery film by Flaked co-creator Mark Chappell and projects with GameFace creator Roisin Conaty and writer-actor Simon Farnaby (Paddington 2).
Jones’ re-upped production deal has been set by Fox Searchlight Pictures Presidents of Production for Film and Television Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum. In 2017, Jones produced Goodbye Christopher Robin for the studio. Directed by Simon Curtis the film starred Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie and Kelly Macdonald. In 2016, he and the studio made UK comedy Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, which took $38M global.
Katie Goodson-Thomas, Searchlight’s SVP of Production & Acquisitions in the UK said of the partnership, “We are delighted to be continuing our collaboration with Damian, as one of the UK’s most prolific producers, he’s an ideal partner for us.”
“I’m thrilled to continue my relationship with the marvelous team at Fox Searchlight and their commitment to UK production and distribution is unsurpassed. We’re putting together a great slate that continues to grow, with a number of projects lining up for 2019,” added Jones, whose 2011 Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady won two Oscars and took $115M worldwide.
Prestige label Searchlight is coming off another strong awards season with Yorgos Lanthimos comedy-drama The Favourite nominated for ten Oscars and raking in box office of $83M to date. The film is still the top earner this year in the UK where it has grossed an excellent $20.7M (£15.7M).
Jones’ other current projects include Michael Winterbottom’s Greed starring Steve Coogan and Argyris Papadimitropoulos’s Monday with Sebastian Stan and Denise Gough. He also has upcoming films with Alice Lowe, John Morton, Tim Firth, Björn Runge and Sophia Al Maria.