Slumdog the musical calls in Julian Fellowes - News - Theatre & Dance - The Independent

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
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
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.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week