24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Slumdog Millionaire

‘Catching Fire’ writer sinks sharp teeth into werewolves, ‘Sharks’

June 8, 2012 |  4:09 pm

Simon Beaufoy is set to take on "Raw Sharks"
You might not think there’s much left for a Hollywood screenwriter to accomplish after penning a sequel to “The Hunger Games.” But for Simon Beaufoy, the Oscar-winning scribe behind “Slumdog Millionaire,” there’s plenty of work ahead now that he’s  finished adapting Suzanne Collins' novel “Catching Fire."

“I’m done [with ‘Catching Fire’] and getting back to several different projects,” Beaufoy told 24 Frames from his home in London on Thursday.

One big priority? “The Raw Shark Texts,” the adaptation of Steven Hall’s science fiction-y novel that Beaufoy began work on as far back as 2008.

The novel is a strange one — it’s about a man named Eric Sanderson who wakes up one day and finds an earlier version of himself has been lost on a trip to Greece, where his girlfriend was killed in a boating accident, and that his memory is possibly being pursued by sharks. Yes, sharks. They eat memory, "Eternal Sunshine"-style. Sanderson has to get to the bottom of the mystery and try to discover what happened to his dead paramour in the process.

A Times review called it  “so much more than a clever, playful book, though it is both those things,” and compared it to Philip K. Dick and Haruki Murakami.

The project has been stuck in development, but Beaufoy now says he has a draft he’s happy with and is, along with producers, closing in on a big-name director. He thinks the director could be signed within the next few weeks.

Beaufoy is honest about the big swing that “Raw Shark” takes. “It'll either be really tremendous or it will be a disaster. There really is no middle ground.”

Another big priority for Beaufoy: “Sharp Teeth,” Toby Barlow’s 2008 novel, written in verse (!), about a gang of werewolf dogs in East L.A. that plot to take over the city. (No, it’s not a political satire. Well, not explicitly.)

Beaufoy is getting his own (Slum)dog pack back together for this one: Christian Colson, who produced the 2009 Oscar winner, is also producing, and British powerhouse Film4 is helping to finance, as it did “Slumdog.”

Will the all-important fourth member of that crew be baring his teeth?

“I think it would be great if Danny did it,” Beaufoy said, alluding to director Danny Boyle. “But he’s got the Olympics now, so it’s hard to know what he’ll do next. He may just retire.”


Simon Beaufoy talks 'Salmon Fishing,' 'Hunger Games' sequel

A colossal fish story

Catching Fire director: Frances Lawrence or Bennett Miller?

— Steven Zeitchik


Photo: A great white shark opens wide. Credit: Tom Campbell/Associated Press.


Dev Patel brings dash of youth to 'Marigold Hotel' [exclusive clip]

May 2, 2012 | 11:36 am

"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" is already an international hit, thanks to a cast of senior British talent including Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith. But those veterans are not the only draw -- there's 23-year-old Dev Patel, best known to Americans for his turn in "Slumdog Millionaire."

The film is based on Deborah Moggach’s book “These Foolish Things,” and it centers on seven middle-class Britons whose savings have melted down with the global economy. They’re lured to the subcontinent with the promise of retiring in affordable luxury, but instead they find a heady mix of heat, noise, smells and tastes -- in other words, India. They end up at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which is run by Patel's character, Sonny, who may have oversold its charms just a tad.

Patel's character was expanded in the film version to broaden the appeal to younger viewers.

For Patel, working with such experienced actors was daunting, eye-opening and a great learning experience, he said.

“Coming into this, I was a bag of nerves,” Patel said on the set of the film in Jaipur, India, in late 2010. “Any of these guys are massive powerhouse actors, a massive presence in the industry. It’s sort of like sensory overload.”

But as filming took place on outdoor locations around Jaipur, most Indian passersby recognized him and not Dench, Nighy, Smith or his other film legend co-stars. That, he said, was a bit unfair. “It’s so undeserving.”

Check out an exclusive clip from the movie with Patel above.


India is key part of cast for 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'

Counterprogramming: Alternatives to regular summer movie fare

'Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' vs. 'Avengers': A risky Hollywood move

-- Mark Magnier in Jaipur, India

Photo: Dev Patel and Tena Desae in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."  Credit: Ishika Mohan / Fox Searchlight Pictures

Fox Searchlight returns to India

June 2, 2010 |  6:31 pm

EXCLUSIVE: "Slumdog Millionaire" is one of the all-time biggest hits in the history of Fox Searchlight. And "Crazy Heart," a movie that appeals to older audiences, is the company's biggest hit of this past awards season. So combining the two is as logical as a Jamal Malik game-show response.

That's essentially what the specialty division is doing with a new project called "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." Based on a novel by Deborah Moggach (originally titled "These Foolish Things"), it's a movie about a group of British senior citizens who travel to India to live out their dotage -- an outsourcing, after a fashion -- and find a new lease on life.

A number of actors are in talks to play starring roles -- the kind of British actors to whom the word venerable is normally applied, including Julie Christie, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Peter O'Toole. Rounding out the "Slumdog" connection: Jamal Malik himself, Dev Patel, is in talks to co-star.

Producers are also in negotiations with a director who has credibility telling British stories of a certain vintage: John Madden, one of the forces behind the late '90's phenomenon "Shakespeare in Love."

"Marigold" taps into a vogue for Indian-themed movies (Searchlight was the company that recently released Bollywood movie "My Name Is Khan" in the U.S.). And the film's storyline, which is said to play as a kind of dramatic comedy about people in their twilight years (it reminds of Mike Leigh's Cannes movie "Another Year") has plenty going for it. Creatively, there are endearing "Cocoon" overtones. And with baby boomers getting older (and with more moviegoing time on their hands), a specialty movie about aging is about as savvy a marketing move as you can imagine. But then, what do you expect? It's Fox Searchlight.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto in "Slumdog Millionaire." Credit: Fox Searchlight

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Is 'Avatar' on its way to becoming this season's 'Slumdog Millionaire'?

January 18, 2010 |  6:50 pm

Last year at this time, "Slumdog Millionaire" was such a prohibitive favorite that at some point all the other contenders seemed to take the rest of the season off.

This year hasn't been nearly as predictable, nor as uniform. Favorites have had a shakier hold on their categories, and no movie has spread as widely across ballots as "Slumdog" did. Which has gotten pundits (at least until recently) excited about the prospect of a left-field phenomenon.

But as the award season moves from confusion to clarity — as it began to do when “Avatar” won best film and best director prizes at the Golden Globes on Sunday night — it also risks veering into certainty. It increasingly looks like this year won’t have a “Crash” or a “Departed,” which each made late, post-Globes surges to win best picture at the Oscars. Much of awards season thrives on suspense, so that’s not exactly a good thing.

Pundits do note a few areas could see drama. By handing best actress prizes to both Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock, the Globes cleared up nothing on that two-woman race; until SAG chooses between them this weekend, it’s almost impossible to handicap a winner. Kathryn Bigelow remains a strong candidate to take the best director prize away from ex-husband James Cameron, especially if the Directors Guild endorses her with its top honors Jan. 30.

This year there’s also a full week between the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Globes announcements and the deadline for academy nomination ballots, which means that the HFPA could stir the pot by getting “The Hangover” back on voters’ minds and into that 10th best picture slot. Which, given that it could mean Mike Tyson holding court at Kodak Theatre, may or may not be a good thing.

But those are dramas of an underwhelming sort. For all the shrugging and upturned palms this year coming out of the New Hampshire primary of awards season, the Toronto International Film Festival, the surprises are fast dwindling. Oscar prospects for Jeff Bridges (best actor), Christoph Waltz and Mo'nique (best supporting actor and actress), “Inglourious Basterds” (original screenplay) and "Up in the Air" (adapted screenplay) are pretty much sure bets. And "Avatar" is looking and more and more steely in the best picture category. There appear to be few opportunities for Jets-like upsets and in turn few great awards-season subplots.

Then again, as counterintuitive as it may seem, “Avatar” represents a comeback story of its own. Sure, it’s not exactly “Slumdog” — Fox gave its director just a little bit more leeway (and money) than Warner Bros. did Danny Boyle. And the movie didn’t require a last-minute bailout from another studio to see the light of day.

But given that James Cameron disappeared for more than a decade with barely a playful hint as to his professional life outside an “Entourage” storyline, there’s something oddly left field about his candidacy too. And given initial skepticism about whether his movie would be a commercial and awards-season smash — let alone match the insanely high bar of “Titanic” — the 3-D film’s success lends it a distinctly "Slumdog"-ish, beat-the-odds quality.

“At the time of ‘Titanic,’ when we won the Golden Globe and we were on our way to being No. 1, I’m thinking ‘Enjoy this ride; it’s never going to happen again,’ ” Cameron said backstage at the Globes on Sunday night. “With ‘Avatar,’ we thought it was a shameless engine of commerce. We’re not going to try to impress the critics. And here we are again.” Given the growing inevitability of this race, that’s true in more ways than one.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: "Avatar." Credit: WETA/Twentieth Century Fox


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