Steve McQueen is set to reteam with 12 Years a Slave producer and financier New Regency on a big-screen adaptation of British TV series Widows.
Sources say the film, which McQueen will direct, will mark his follow-up to the Oscar best-picture winner 12 Years a Slave. The plan is to be in preproduction by the end of this year on the heist thriller, which won’t likely be titled Widows.
Iain Canning and Emile Sherman, who won a best-picture Oscar for The King’s Speech, will produce alongside McQueen.
The series, which first aired in the U.K. in 1983 when London native McQueen was a teenager, has been a passion project for the director, with its themes of female empowerment. The series kicked off when three armed robbers are killed during a heist. They are survived by their widows, who use a cache of books detailing the men’s past robberies to pull off a raid themselves. The film will diverge from the series in that it will be contemporary, set in a U.S. city, and feature four widows. Given McQueen’s track record with actors like Michael Fassbender and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, the four roles will likely be hotly contested.
Lynda La Plante (Prime Suspect) wrote the series.
McQueen, who was a big fan of the series growing up, is writing the screenplay.
Ironically, Disney owned remake rights to the edgy drama series but sold them to New Regency, where McQueen was determined to make his next movie (New Regency president and CEO Brad Weston was an early champion of 12 Years a Slave — a film that was seen as commercially risky). But earlier this year, 12 Years a Slave became an awards-season darling, nabbing three Oscars, as well as a box-office hit, with a $188 million worldwide haul.
After winning the best-picture Oscar, McQueen shifted his focus to the HBO drama pilot Codes of Conduct (he recently cast newcomer Devon Terrell as the lead). Canning and Sherman executive produced that project.
Still, there has been much speculation about which film McQueen would tackle next. News trickled out this week that he was working on a film about the legendary actor, singer and activist Paul Robeson. But sources say Widows will come before that project.
New Regency has been on a roll of late, with David Fincher‘s Gone Girl and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s Birdman in theaters and gaining awards-season momentum. The company also has Inarritu’s next film, The Revenant, in production.
McQueen is repped by CAA, Casarotto Ramsay & Associates in the U.K. and attorney Carlos Goodman.