British bestsellers all rush off to the movies

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The Independent Online
BEST-SELLING British novels are providing the inspiration for new movies, film-makers revealed in Cannes yesterday.

Among the most important is a pounds 20m-plus adaptation of The White Hotel, the D M Thomas novel centred on the Holocaust, which is to be financed by an Austrian company, Constantin Film.

An initial screenplay for the film was written by the late Dennis Potter. His draft is now being adapted in Belgrade by the Yugoslav writer Dusan Kovacevic, who is working during and between Nato bombing raids.

The Hollywood star Johnny Depp is understood to have signed up for the film, as has the British actor David Thewlis. The female lead has not yet been cast but the director, Emir Kusturica, has sounded out an array of stars, including Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Juliette Binoche, Fran-ces McDormand and Holly Hunter.

Other novels to be filmed include Kazuo Ishiguro's novel The White Countess and the Trinidadian V S Naipaul's Mystic Masseur, both by Merchant Ivory. And yesterday Stewart Till, president of Universal Pictures International, confirmed that the British film company Working Title Films, which Universal part-owns, will be filming both Bridget Jones' Diary and Captain Corelli's Mandolin. None of the leading characters for either movie has been cast.

The British film director Alan Parker also said in Cannes yesterday that his version of Angela's Ashes, the best-selling story of an Irish childhood by Frank McCourt, is now in the final stages of production. It will star Emily Watson and Robert Carlyle.

t Universal Pictures and the French company Canal Plus announced a 50- 50 joint venture in association with Working Title Films to co-fund the development production and operational costs of Working Title's future slate.

Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan, co-chairmen of Working Title Films, which made Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill, said in a statement: "The opportunity for Working Title to harness the combined strengths of both a Hollywood studio and a major European media company is incredibly exciting."

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