Tragic end for your investment

pounds 500 buys you the chance to share the screen with Macbeth

Fancy a bit part, and a share, in a movie? For pounds 500 you could be an extra in the battle scenes of a film version of Macbeth, directed by the actor, Brian Blessed. Moreover, your pounds 500 outlay could even make you some money - it is, in effect, an interest-bearing loan to the firm, which also offers a share in any profits.

Macbeth hopes to capitalise on growing interest in Scotland and Scottish nationalism in the wake of Mel Gibson's Braveheart. Cromwell Productions, the maker of Macbeth, has already made The Bruce (pictured right), the story of Robert the Bruce, which stars Oliver Reed, Brian Blessed and Wolf from the television show The Gladiators. The Bruce was released in Scotland earlier this year.

Cromwell intends Macbeth to be the first in a Shakespearian series of films. It says Grampian Television, the Scottish TV company, has already bought the television rights, and Cromwell is now looking for 300 members of the public to put up at least pounds 500 each to fund production costs, budgeted at pounds 400,000.

Investors will get to fight a couple of battles in fancy dress and maybe walk in some horses. They may also appear as spearmen, servants, washerwomen, grooms or courtiers. What is more, investors can, if they want, have their name on the film's credits.

Macbeth plc is offering buyers of the pounds 500 "debentures" 5 per cent interest a year, repayment of capital in stages up to 2001 and a share in 50 per cent of any net profits from the film.

While there is no problem investing in films such as this for a bit of fun, in practice people should be prepared to lose all the money they put in. There is no guarantee that the film will be completed, be shown, or be profitable, or that Macbeth plc will be able to pay the interest or repay the capital on the debentures.

It is unlikely that the debentures will be easily resaleable and even the offer document "strongly recommends" consulting an independent financial adviser before investing.

Bill Russell, film critic at the Glasgow Herald, says: "This is vanity film making for the investing public who get a part.''

However, Cromwell says it already has commitments from Grampian TV and a video company. It also says it already has enough money for the film to go ahead.

The offer for subscription talks about a series of special event showings to promote the film around the country, and Cromwell also has its eye on the schools market. It adds that this will be the only full-length film version of the play (it will use Shakespeare's original text) made since Laurence Olivier's version in the 1940s. The company aims to make the film this year and show it from next year. Offers for Macbeth plc close at the end of this month. For a prospectus call 01789 415187.

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