Chris Rock to redo 'Funeral' service

SKE, Screen Gems on board for new take on British comedy

Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Sony's Screen Gems are partnering with Chris Rock for an urban reworking of the 2007 British comedy "Death at a Funeral."

Rock will produce, star and co-write the script with Aeysha Carr.

The project is inspired by SKE's 2007 feature, which was written by Dean Craig and directed by Frank Oz. That film made for about $9 million and released by MGM in the U.S., grossed $8.5 million stateside and $46.5 million worldwide.

Sidney Kimmel, Share Stallings and Laurence Malkin are returning to produce the new version.

William Horberg, who served as executive producer for the 2007 version, also is on board to produce under the terms of the first-look arrangement he struck with SKE when he left the company as its production chief.

The ensemble comedy will take place in an urban American setting and centers on a funeral ceremony that devolves into a debacle of misplaced cadavers, indecent exposure and family secrets. The cast will be primarily black, supplanting the earlier, England-set version's British cast.

"We've been trying to work with Chris Rock and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment for some time now," Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper said. "It's exciting to us that this film provides the opportunity to work with both."

The producers are looking for a director for the project, which is planned to start production in the spring.

"Chris, who was an unabashed fan of the film, came to us with a hysterical, completely new reimagining of the original concept," said SKE's Jim Tauber, who is serving as an executive producer along with scribe Craig. "Clint and his team loved it and jumped on board right away, and they're bringing their considerable marketing and distribution savvy to the project."

"Funeral" marks the first SKE production since the company announced its plans in the summer to refocus its efforts on films with a more commercial appeal, rather than specialty films it had produced such as "Synecdoche, New York" and "Lars and the Real Girl."

Screen Gems' Scott Strauss is overseeing the project for the studio.

Rock is repped by ICM and attorney Stephen Barnes. Carr is repped by Paradigm.
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