'In Bruges' Director's Next Project Gets Financing From Film4, Fox Searchlight

Martin McDonagh - H 2016
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The U.K. banner behind 'Carol' has also teamed with 'The Inbetweeners' team on a two-year, four-film deal.

Just weeks after celebrating its biggest Oscars nominations haul ever, with 15 mentions across six separate titles (including Room, Carol and Amy), Film4 is setting its stalls out even higher for future awards seasons.

Announced Tuesday at an event to celebrate its bumper haul of Academy noms, the production arm of U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 has upped its annual funding from £15 million ($21.6 million) to £25 million ($36 million) this year, with the goal to maintain similar funding increases in future years.

The funding boost comes amid a slew of upcoming projects for the banner, including a Mary Magdalene biopic, currently being eyed by The Weinstein Co. for the U.S., plus Danny Boyle's long-awaited Trainspotting sequel and Lean on Pete, the next film from 45 Years director Andrew Haigh. New titles from Steve McQueen, Mike Leigh, Lenny Abrahamson, Yorgos Lanthimos and Chris Morris also are in development.

Adding to the funding news, Film4 revealed a deal with Fox Searchlight for the latest project from Martin McDonagh, the acclaimed playwright and director behind In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, whose latest West End stage production Hangmen has just been named best new play at the U.K.'s Critics' Circle Theater Awards.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which was first discussed by the director three years ago and recently had Frances McDormand attached to star, is the story of a woman whose daughter is murdered and who takes on the local police after they fail to find killers. "She thinks they are more interested in torturing black people than getting justice," he told The Guardian last year.

The film — set to start shooting in April in North Carolina — will be financed on a 50/50 basis by Film4 and Fox Searchlight, with the studio taking worldwide distribution rights and Channel 4 retaining U.K. TV rights. Three Billboards is being produced by Graham Broadbent and Peter Czernin at Blueprint Pictures alongside McDonagh.

Film4, McDonagh and Blueprint collaborated on both Seven Psychopaths and In Bruges, for which McDonagh received an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay and won a BAFTA for original screenplay in 2008.

“I’m delighted that through our shared passion and taste on several recent projects, we have come up with a mutually rewarding way for Film4 and Fox Searchlight to work together," said Film4 CEO David Kosse. "They are a fantastic distribution partner to have on your side and we look forward to working closely with them and our friends at Blueprint over the next few months to help bring Martin’s darkly comic writing and directing genius to audiences around the globe."

Also announced Tuesday is a three-way partnership between Film4, U.K. distributor Entertainment Film and production upstart Fudge Park Films, set up by Iain Morris and Damon Beesley, the creative duo behind hit British comedy show The Inbetweeners and its two hugely successful spinoff films. The two-year deal will see Film4 and Entertainment Film jointly fund the development, production and distribution of a slate of four comedy feature films, with an international sales agent set to be assigned once they have been greenlighted.