Sidney Kimmel, Sony to attend 'Funeral'

Chris Rock to produce and star

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

Rock will produce and star as well as 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.

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

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 African-American, 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 actively looking for a director for the project, which is planned to start up production in the spring.

"Chris, who was an unabashed fan of the film, came to us with a hysterical, completely new re-imagining 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 last summer, when the company announced plans to refocus its efforts on films with a more commercial appeal, rather than such previously produced specialty films 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.