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This story first appeared in the Dec. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
For his follow-up to best picture Oscar winner 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen (CAA, the U.K.’s Casarotto Ramsay, Bloom Hergott) had his choice of projects.
The auteur behind such intense male-led dramas as Hunger and Shame is making a bit of a departure with a female-led heist film, one based on the 1980s British TV series Widows that he devoured as a London teen.
But the film and TV series will diverge dramatically. McQueen’s feature, which reunites him with 12 Years producer and financier New Regency, won’t be called Widows and will be set in a modern-day American city, not London.
“Steve was interested in doing his own version of a gangster film,” New Regency president and CEO Brad Weston tells THR. “It felt fresh to him to combine a contemporary, hard-hitting, very grounded gangster movie with four strong female characters. We loved it because that’s who Steve is. He sees things differently.”
But Widows‘ remake rights were owned by Disney — not an obvious destination for a McQueen film. In fact, the edgy director was determined to make his next movie with New Regency (Weston was an early champion of 12 Years, which earned $188 million worldwide).
New Regency has closed a deal with Disney for Widows (Disney’s ABC mounted a version in 2002 with Mercedes Ruehl and Brooke Shields), which freed up the project for McQueen. The plan is to be in preproduction by year’s end. The King’s Speech‘s Iain Canning and Emile Sherman will produce with McQueen.
Adds Weston, “This project gives him the commercial jumping-off point, but then allows him to twist it into a Steve McQueen film.”
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