Fred & Adele Astaire Story & WWII Thriller ‘The Zero Hour’ In The Works For Altitude — Cannes

Fred Astaire Adele Astaire Rudolf Höss

EXCLUSIVE: Multi-faceted UK outfit Altitude, which is on the Croisette this year with Asif Kapadia’s anticipated documentary Diego Maradona, is in development on a movie about the lives and careers of dance siblings Fred and Adele Astaire, and World War II thriller The Zero Hour about one man’s personal quest to track down Nazi Rudolf Hoss.

Altitude spans international sales, UK distribution and production. The latest prospect in development for the company is a portrait of iconic American dancer Fred Astaire and his sister Adele. Partnering with producers Ben Holden (The Woman In Black 2) of Lightbulb Pictures and Josh Hyams (The Trip To Spain), Altitude have set writers Glenn Patterson and Colin Carberry (Good Vibrations) to write The Astaires, the true story of how the twenty-something siblings overcame huge challenges to become the world’s most famous dancers during their time in London and New York.

Based on Kathleen Riley’s biography of Fred’s legendary dance partnerships, the film reveals how older sister Adele was the more inspiring, intuitive dancer and a massive star in her own right yet encouraged younger brother Fred on his own, singular path to lasting greatness when she had to choose between staying with the man she loved and living a less-fulfilled life on the road.

Meanwhile, as it looks to strengthen its multi-faceted approach to the business, Altitude is also in development on The Zero Hour, based on writer Thomas Harding’s well-received book Hanns & Rudolf. The thriller will chart one of the most important manhunts of the immediate post-WWII period. It follows Hanns Alexander, a young Jew who escaped Germany and fought for Britain in WWII, who sets out to track down Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoss and avenge his loved ones. But, in a traumatised Germany where few will admit to the scope and crimes of the Holocaust, Hoss evades capture for more than a year. A vengeful Hanns must ask himself: if he kills Hoss who will ever know the real scale of the horror? A version of the project was previously in development at The Ink Factory.

“We see both these films as European productions,” said Mike Runagall, sales chief at Altitude, which is likely to handle international and UK distribution on both projects. “We’re getting involved in films a lot earlier now and we’re well aware of the need to build projects from the ground up. We always planned for synergy between our operations and this is how the company is evolving.”

Altitude has recently had a hand in producing movies including Kevin Macdonald doc Whitney and horror Ghost Stories. Overseeing development at the company as Head Of Creative, film and TV, is former Pathé staffer Bradley Quirk.

Altitude’s Cannes sales slate includes Jamie Bell thriller Dynamite Room, and three anticipated documentaries: Charlie Chaplin film Chasing Chaplin, which was pre-bought by Showtime in the U.S., an as-yet-untitled Led Zeppelin film, and Billie, about iconic singer Billie Holiday. The firm has found particular success with docs over the years including on Asif Kapadia’s Amy. As we revealed last week, Altitude is also working with 47 Meters Down producers Mark Lane and James Harris on rock-climbing thriller Hang, which is in early stages.

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