Update: 49-million euro Nutcracker shooting in Hungary

By Laszlo Kriston

    Moscow-based director Andrei Konchalovsky started the 13-week shooting on one of the biggest film projects of his career - a big-ticket retelling of The Nutcracker - The True Story (working title) based on a tale by the German Romantic writer E.T.A. Hoffman. Billed as a family fantasy film, Nutracker will shoot entirely in Hungary spending more than 30 percent of its budget in the country until it wraps at the end of October.

    A labor of love that Konchalovsky has been trying to adapt for the screen for several years, the privately financed €49 million project holds the prospect of bringing both the Hoffman tale and the well-known Tchaikovsky compositions to today's young audiences.

    Moritz Borman (Terminator 4, Alexander, The Quiet American, The Wedding Planner) of indie powerhouse Intermedia (www.intermediafilm.com), is executive producer of the film - though company credits announced so far included the U.K.'s Noisette Film Productions only. Noisette's Paul Lowin is the main producer of the film.

    Borman has previously worked with Konchalovsky (The Odyssey, House of Fools, Runaway Train, Sibiriada) in the U.S. on the 1989 movie Homer and Eddie. Co-producer, József Cirkó (Dinotophia, Mary, Mother of Jesus, Rasputin) of HCC Media Group is responsible for the Hungarian shooting. Laura Julian is line producer.

    The British-Canadian-Hungarian co-production has significant Hungarian participation in it, involving private sources using the 20 percent tax rebate provision under the 2004 film law, Cirkó told Film New Europe. He added there is no state funding involved in the film.

    Konchalovsky is no stranger to Hungary. His TV-movie for Hallmark, Lion in Winter starring Glenn Close and Patrick Stewart, was shot in MAFILM's Fot Studios in 2004 with HCC Media Productions providing production services.

    Due to a prolonged casting process, the producers were forced to postpone the early May start of the shooting. CAA's David Bugliari, Bart Walker and Tony Lipp were instrumental in packaging the deal. Target Entertainment will represent the international licensing rights (excluding Japan) for the film which stars John Turturro, Nathan Lane, Ellen Fanning and Richard E. Grant. Producers are aiming for a 2008 winter release date.