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
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
books
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
books
Arts and Entertainment
The man with the golden run: Daniel Craig as James Bond in 'Skyfall'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Waving Seal' by Luke Wilkinson was Highly Commended in the Portraits category

photography
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering