Slumdog the musical calls in Julian Fellowes

Danny Boyle has broken off talks on staging his hit movie after an argument over artistic control

Los Angeles

It was an old-fashioned Hollywood fairy tale: the low-budget movie, with a feel-good plotline and a virtually unknown cast, that managed to capture the public imagination before walking away with no fewer than eight Oscars at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles.

Three years after that unlikely triumph, plans for Slumdog Millionaire's third act, as a stage musical, are mired in ugly controversy after Danny Boyle, the British director who was the "face" of the film's triumph, broke off negotiations to help bring the production to London's West End.

Boyle, the man behind Trainspotting, 127 Hours and the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, is thought to have spent more than a year discussing the project with producer Paul Smith, a TV mogul whose firm, Celador, created the quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Their talks have now ended, however, seemingly in acrimony. And to the dismay of Boyle's fans, Smith is believed to be lining up a rival British Oscar-winner, the Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes to mastermind the forthcoming stage-show in his place.

"Danny has a great attachment to Slumdog, and so of course wanted to make it with exactly the same creative team: screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, composer AR Rahman, and producer Christian Colson," a source close to negotiations told The Independent on Sunday.

"Those talks broke down, and we now hear Smith is in talks with Fellowes and Matthew Warchus, the guy behind Ghost, to make the musical in their place... I wouldn't say Danny is angry. He's not that kind of guy. But there are plenty of people who are outraged for him, and the public deserves to know what's going on."

Smith co-produced and financed the Slumdog movie, but was not named or thanked in any of Boyle, Beaufoy, Colson or Rahman's Oscar-night speeches. However, the cause of their recent disagreements is understood to boil down to something more pragmatic: artistic control.

One of the four Oscar-winners who made the film, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that neither Beaufoy nor Boyle was willing to sign a deal that did not give them the final say on the contents of the musical's script and decisions on casting and staging.

They were also unwilling to make a musical version of Slumdog without the involvement of Colson, the film's co-producer. But Smith, who had already brought a veteran theatre producer, David Ian, on board, is said to have been unwilling to make space for a third partner.

Meanwhile Rahman, who owns the rights to "Jai Ho", the film's signature song, was reluctant to be involved in the project without the blessing of his former colleagues. It is unclear whether the track will be allowed to feature in the eventual stage musical.

"We won five Oscars between the four of us, and the film made more than £200m, so it's not like we did such a bad job last time," said the Oscar-winner. “We have the creative shorthand, and know how to work together. We just aren’t prepared to sign a deal that makes the musical subject to the approval of someone else. That’s not how we work.”

In an email to yesterday's LA Times, Beaufoy said that he was “saddened by what’s happened” to the stage project. Representatives of Rahman, Boyle and Colson confirmed that they were not involved with Smith’s production.

“It’s genuinely not about the money,” another source said. “They aren't like that. I mean, Danny was to receive £100,000 for doing the Olympics, but refused to take it and instead said it should be used to help disadvantaged children to attend events. They aren’t motivated by cash. It’s a matter of principle.”

The group is understood to be particularly upset at the prospect of Fellowes taking over the project, the source added. “Simon and Danny are northern lads and this is a story about aspirations and triumph of the working class. Fellowes is a Tory. How can he possibly understand a story like Slumdog?”

Smith’s firm, Celador, originally planned to bring the Slumdog musical to stage in 2013. However he said yesterday that it was now more likely to be launched in 2014. He confirmed that Colson had not been asked to participate in the project, but insisted that he would still welcome Boyle, Beaufoy and Rahman on board if the right contitions were met.

“I haven’t contracted anyone to work on this yet,” he said. “Discussions have been taking place, but the whole project is in an embryonic stage.” He said that “one of” the duo of Julian Fellowes and Matthew Warchus had indeed been approached about the musical, but added that they are “not even close” to agreeing any deals.

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Shenaz Treasurywala
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all