Theatre loses a star to movies

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Stephen Daldry, who is stepping down from his post as artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre in London, has signed a three-year contract to be an independent producer and director for Working Title Films. Daldry, 36, has never yet directed a movie, which makes the deal highly unusual.

The agreement will give Working Title a "first look" option on Daldry's film ideas, mirroring an agreement that Working Title already has with actor/director Tim Robbins, which has already resulted in the production of two films, Bob Roberts and Dead Man Walking.

In addition, the deal will give Daldry an autonomous development fund, with which he will be able to develop his own movie projects as well as nurture new directing and writing talent in the United Kingdom.

Eric Fellner, co-chairman of Working Title, said: "Stephen's knowledge and understanding of the talent currently working in British theatre will, we hope, lead to new and exciting film projects."

Daldry pointed to what he termed "the last significant relationship between theatre and film in the UK" - which grew out of the Royal Court in the Sixties when Tony Richardson, John Osborne and Karel Reisz set up Woodfall Film Productions, making films such as The Knack and A Taste Of Honey.