UK Production Company Back on its Feet w/ ‘Minotaur’

Interesting news from London found its way online thanks to Variety. A prehistoric horror pic called Minotaur has become one of the first British projects to spring back to life after an interesting tax problem shut down progress on more than 30 films on February 10th. Inside you’ll find more on the ‘Minotaur’, which stars Tony Todd of ‘Candyman’ and the story behind the shutdown.
Image courtesy of Variety reports:

LONDON — Prehistoric horror pic “Minotaur” has become one of the first British projects to spring back to life after the massacre of Feb. 10.

The directorial debut of producer Jonathan English, the $7 million movie was one of more than 30 upcoming projects that collapsed in a single day when the U.K. government slammed shut a tax loophole.

A handful of pics that were already in pre-production, including “The Libertine” and “The Constant Gardener,” managed to lash together some emergency coin and start shooting pretty much as planned. But of the remaining projects that were in advanced development to shoot later in 2004, virtually none has yet succeeded in replacing the lost tax finance, worth a third of their budgets.

“Minotaur,” however, is the exception. Originally scheduled to shoot in April, it is now set to go Nov. 1 at Babelsberg Studios near Berlin and on location in Wales.

Pic was due to get equity coin from Grosvenor Park’s First Choice fund, shut down on Feb. 10. This has now been replaced with gap finance from the Bank of Ireland, supported by a foreign sales deal with First Look.

The other original components are still in place — a North American pre-sale to Lions Gate, a French co-production with Telema/TF1, a German co-production with Babelsberg, plus an equity investment from U.S. f/x house E=Mc2 Digital, which is doing the monster work on the pic.

The film, set in 1400 B.C., is closely based on the classic Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. But rather than the blue skies and white togas of typical Ancient Greek movies, English is going for darker, dirtier Iron Age version that he believes is closer to historical reality.

Every five years, 10 youths (five boys and five girls) from a small village are taken by soldiers to be sacrificed to the Minotaur, a sacred monster who lives in a labyrinth under the palace at Knossos. But this time, the victims, headed by Theseus, hatch a plan to fight back by killing the Minotaur, putting an end once and for all to the persecution of their tribe. The second half of the movie takes place in the labyrinth as the youths and the monster hunt each other. Script is by Steven McDool and Nick Green.

“I have always pitched it as a prehistoric ‘Alien,’ ” English says. “It’s a teen horror movie set in the 14th century B.C.” The Minotaur itself will be created partly by animatronics and partly by digital f/x, and will differ considerably from the half-man, half-bull of the traditional myth.

Casting is under way for the lead role of Theseus, with American actor Tony Todd (“Candyman”) confirmed as the ruler of the palace, and Steven Berkoff as the headman of the village.

Pre-sales have been completed to a dozen territories, including Mexico, Greece, Brazil, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Malaysia. “I think it was the fact that we had real commercial deals in place that enabled us to bring in the Bank of Ireland to replace the tax money,” English says. “I know a lot of other producers have had problems with refinancing, because they just can’t get the pre-sales.”

Source: Variety