Graham King‘s GK Films seems to be in fairly good shape with Ben Affleck‘s The Town (playing Venice and Toronto festivals, opening on 9.17) and Florian von Henckel Donnersmarck‘s The Tourist (recently advanced to 12.10.10 opening, always a good sign). But it appears that something’s wrong with William Monahan‘s London Boulevard, a GK-funded crime drama which finished principal in August ’09 and has long been presumed/rumored to be a fall 2010 release. That seems unlikely at this stage.
London Boulevard costars Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley during shooting. Stills from William Monahan’s film are so sparse that I’ve no choice but to use half-ass candids.
My guess is that Monahan’s superb screenwriting talent hasn’t fully translated over to directing, and that his inexperience combined with anal tendencies caused problems on the set (or so says a London source), and that reactions to the unfinished film were such that extra shooting was deemed necesssary (ditto), and that King has decided to pull the plug on a fall awards-campaign release and punt instead for 2011. Again, some reporting but I’m mainly guessing.
LB is a London-based crime drama about an ex-con named Mitchell (Colin Farrell), just out of the slammer, who falls in love with Charlotte (Keira Knightley), an actress who’s fallen into a odd kind of career slumber, while running afoul of some gangster guys (Eddie Marsan or Ray Winstone or both). Costars include David Thewlis, Anna Friel, Ophelia Lovibond, Ben Chaplin, Sanjeev Baskhar and Jamie Campbell Bower.
Lovibond told me a few weeks ago that she expects (i.e.. had been told ) that Monahan’s film would get a U.S. release in November. On top of which the IMDB (hardly an authority, I realize) has posted a U.K. release date of 10.15. But I’m seeing indications that London Boulevard isn’t going to open this year due to GK deciding it’s not an award-season contender. This would mean a 2011 release, possibly in the early months or the late summer/early fall.
Not that I’m hoping for such a scenario. I’d love to be wrong. I’m a fan of Monahan’s script — a delightful read — and I’ve been rooting big-time for London Boulevard to turn up at the Toronto Film Festival, etc. It doesn’t look that way now, but if Lovibond’s forecast turns out to be correct, great.
London Boulevard‘s Colin Farrell (r.) and some crew guys, taken during filming.
“They did some extra shooting in London between two and three months ago,” my London guy says. “They also did very brief additional shooting in L.A. with, I believe, a stand-in for Keira Knightley. You’ve read the script so you know that it’s a back shot of KK’s character standing, if I remember correctly, of the balcony of the Chateau Marmont.
“I did hear there were a lot of problems during the shoot and that Monahan” — Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Departed, but a total first-time director — “was beyond paranoid, involving himself in every single aspect of filming, which, of course, meant that shooting took forever.”
No announcement on a U.S. distribution deal means it’s been seen (GK apparently showed whatever he had to buyers in Cannes last May) and there are doubts, or that no one’s seen a finished cut at all — i.e., Monahan being anal and obsessive and slow to pull it together, like he allegedly was during filming.
The usual strategy in a limbo situation of this sort would be for GK to take London Boulevard to Telluride, Venice and Toronto, but to my knowledge there’s nothing doing on that score as far as Venice and Toronto are concerned. (Telluride slates are never announced until the last minute.)
I read Monahan’s script a couple of months ago and recognized right away it’s a sturdy, character-based, unhurried crime drama mixed with romance and hints of dark poetry. Well-sculpted dialogue, sprinklings of echo and nuance and melancholy, a little touch of Mona Lisa in the night. Which is precisely the kind of film that could benefit from dog-and-pony shows at the early September festivals.
The only approved still I’ve been able to find.
And where’s the trailer, at least? Boulevard wrapped a year ago, was being shopped in Cannes last May, and is supposedly coming out on 10.15 in England — seven weeks from now — and there’s still no trailer? And no London Boulevard website? You can’t even find decent stills online…c’mon.
Monahan’s script is based on Ken Bruen’s 2001 novel. Mitchell’s romantic interest in Bruen’s book is a 60 year-old reclusive actress named Lillian Palmer, so Monahan has definitely shuffled that element around. Knightley is, what, 25 or 26?
Bruen’s book was described in a book-review synopsis as a “gritty reimagining of Billy Wilder‘s Sunset Boulevard, transplanting the action from glitzy Hollywood to the rough and tumble London streets…looking for an honest job, Mitchell finds work as a handyman for Palmer, who lives in a sprawling estate with her taciturn butler, Jordan.”
Thewlis is playing Jordan in the film, and Friel is playing Briony, who is Palmer’s sister in the book but Farrell’s in the film.
E-mails to Maxine Leonard, GK Films‘ senior vp marketing and publicity, and Joy Fehily of Prime Public relations, were unanswered when I posted this morning. I also asked a couple of film festival guys who always know stuff, but they didn’t respond either.