CANNES: Dustin To Star In Ealing Thriller

EXCLUSIVE: Hoffman is attached to star in a $30M-40M adaptation of Irwin Shaw’s novel Nightwork, which he brought to the UK studio. William Davies, one of the writers on How To Train Your Dragon, is penning the screenplay. Nightwork is a Catch Me If You Can caper about a man who stumbles across a fortune hidden in a hotel corpse. From then on, he and his conman partner flee across Europe, trying to stay one step ahead of the men whose money it is.

Ealing Studios has also secured the rights to remake Doctor In the House. The name won’t mean much to readers in the States, but the Doctor series of films were huge hits in Britain in the 50s. They also spawned a hit 70s TV series. Richard Gordon’s novel is a comedy about a young doctor in medical school. The 1954 original – directed by Jeremy Thomas’ father Ralph — made a heartthrob out of Dirk Bogarde. Ealing hopes its reboot will provide a similar star-making role for a young British actor. If successful, Ealing hopes it could become its second franchise after St Trinian’s.

Barnaby Thompson, CEO of Ealing, tells me he wants his studio to be making between 4 and 6 movies a year – half produced in-house and the rest brought in from outside producers, such as its new Mary J Blige/Nina Simone biopic. Ealing is developing a third St Trinian’s movie, as well as a biopic of the Fisherman’s Friends singing group.

Thompson sees Ealing developing more American material, given how few domestic distributors there are in the USA. Anything to make that domestic sale easier. There is a lot of good material waiting to be made in Hollywood, he tells me. “Either it’s too expensive, or it’s been put in turnaround because of studios concentrating on blockbusters.” These projects could be financed and made more cheaply in Britain, he thinks.

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