BBC, Weinstein fund 'Meerkats'

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The Weinstein Co. and BBC Films have agreed to co-finance "The Meerkats," an African wildlife feature. BBC Films will collaborate for the first time with the BBC Natural History Unit to produce the feature. James Honeyborne will direct the account of a meerkat family's struggle to survive.

The BBC Natural History Unit has been involved in feature films that have developed from its own television series, such as "Blue Planet" and the forthcoming "Earth," but this is the first time it has begun a project with intentions of producing it as a feature film.

"Meerkats" is set to start principal photography in November in the Kalahari Desert.

The Weinstein Co. holds worldwide rights and will begin sales at the American Film Market.

"The film has huge emotional appeal and will really travel internationally. It's a great story with a fantastic team behind it, and we hope this will be the start of a great partnership for the future," said David Thompson, head of BBC Films.

Neil Nightingale and David M. Thompson will serve as executive producers, with Joe Oppenheimer and Trevor Ingman producing. Michael Cole, co-president of production, and Rhodri Thomas, director of development and production, will oversee the project for the Weinstein Co.

At AFM, the Weinstein Co.'s new international sales division also will act as sales agent for such other titles as "The Brothers Bloom," from director Rian Johnson and starring Rachel Weisz, and the Mayhem Project's first two pictures, the horror title "Clock Tower" and the dance drama "Make It Happen."
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