Writer-Director-Producer Charles Sturridge (Fairytale, Longitude, Shackleton) will commence principal photography on Lassie on May 23. The seven-week shoot will film on location in Ireland and the Isle of Man. Lassie will be produced by Element Films' Ed Guiney (The Magdalene Sisters, Disco Pigs, Omagh, Boy Eats Girl) and Firstsight Films' Charles Sturridge and Francesca Barra (Shackleton,The Lawless Heart) in conjunction with Classic Media. Charles Sturridge wrote the script, based on Eric Knight's classic 1938 novel Lassie Come Home.
Legendary actor Peter O'Toole, a seven-time Academy Award nominee for such classics as Lawrence of Arabia, Goodbye Mr. Chips and The Ruling Class, as well as the 2003 recipient of an Honorary Oscar for his achievements in film, has signed on to star as the Duke of Rudling. Academy Award nominee Samantha Morton (Sweet and Lowdown, Minority Report) has been cast as Sarah Carraclough. Peter Dinklage (Elf, The Station Agent) will star as Rowlie. Additional cast members include, Steve Pemberton (League of Gentlemen), John Lynch (The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Sliding Doors, In the Name of the Father), Jemma Redgrave (Howards End) and Gregor Fisher ("The Merchant of Venice", Love Actually and the hit BBC TV series Rab C. Nesbitt).
Odyssey Entertainment will handle the worldwide distribution rights for Lassie.
The film is set on the eve of WWII in a Yorkshire mining town. After falling on hard times, the Carraclough family is forced to sell Lassie, their beloved dog, to the Duke of Rudling. When Lassie finds herself transported five hundred miles away to live in the Duke's remote castle on the northern coast of Scotland, she is determined to defy the odds and return to her home. So begins an incredible adventure, set against a stunning series of British landscapes, that sees Lassie facing dangers natural and human and finding help in unexpected places as she makes her way across the country, to reach home in time for Christmas. This re-telling of the classic story promises all the love, trust and heroism a family audience could ask for.
Samuel Hadida and Victor Hadida will co-produce through their Davis Films (Domino; Silent Hill). Executive Producers are Ralph Kamp and Louise Goodsill (Odyssey Entertainment); Doug Schwalbe and Eric Ellenbogen (Classic Media); Steve Christian (Isle Of Man) and Andrew Lowe (Element Films).
The timeless Lassie story has already resonated with the international distribution community. Entertainment Film Distributors will distribute the film in the UK (releasing Christmas 2005) and Shochiku have picked up the rights in Japan. Odyssey have also locked in deals in Taiwan (Applause Entertainment); Turkey (Avsar Film); Benelux (Belga Films); Eastern Europe (Revolutionary Releasing); Portugal (LNK Audiovisuais); France (Metropolitan Filmexport); Middle East (Phars Film); Indonesia (PT Amero); Thailand (Sahamongkol); Iceland (SamFilm); Israel (Shapira Films) and Greece (Village Roadshow).
Lassie is one of entertainment's most successful franchises with ten feature films and more than 675 half-hour TV episodes to her credit. The original Lassie movie was followed by a series of sequels with Hollywood legends Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, Roddy McDowell and Jimmy Stewart. Lassie's two-time Emmy Award-winning TV series is one of the longest running programmes in television history and has been seen in more than 50 countries around the world.