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PRODUCTION UK

Showtime and Altitude join forces on “definitive” Chaplin biopic

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- Notes on Blindness directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s second feature is being backed by the BFI and Film4

Showtime and Altitude join forces on “definitive” Chaplin biopic
Directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney, and producer Mike Brett

Altitude and Showtime have announced that they are teaming up in representing worldwide rights to Chaplin (working title), the upcoming second feature documentary by Peter Middleton and James Spinney, three-time BAFTA nominees for Notes on Blindness [+see also:
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Middleton and Spinney have gained unprecedented access to Charlie Chaplin’s personal and creative archive, including a treasure trove of previously unknown material. Through unseen outtakes and newly unearthed audio recordings, Middleton and Spinney will chart Chaplin’s escape from an impoverished childhood in late-Victorian London to the bright lights of Hollywood. But although his fictional alter ego “The Little Tramp” brings him global fame and total artistic control, turbulent creative anxieties, successive personal scandals and a controversial political voice ultimately lead not only to the demise of his beloved character, but his rejection from America and self-imposed exile.  

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Middleton and Spinney said: “We feel incredibly lucky to have been welcomed by the Chaplin family into their archives. To find new perspectives on the life and work of one of the icons of the 20th century, who has left an indelible mark on popular culture, is a huge and exciting challenge. Chaplin described his life as a ‘fairy tale’, and its themes of inequality, power, celebrity and artistry couldn’t be more relevant today.”

Altitude is handling international rights for the film and will be introducing the project to buyers at the impending Cannes Film Festival. Showtime has the North American rights. Altitude has also acquired distribution rights to the film for the UK and Ireland.

Chaplin is being funded by the BFI, and has been awarded funds from the National Lottery, Film4 and Showtime. Further support comes from the BFI National Archive’s world-class collections and Chaplin’s World by Grévin. Chaplin’s World is a museum, housed in the historic Manoir de Ban in Vevey, Switzerland, where Chaplin lived for 25 years. It will act as a shooting location for sequences set during the latter stages of his life. 

Lizzie Francke from the BFI said: “We are delighted to be working with Peter and James and the incredibly talented team behind Notes on Blindness. Their creatively innovative approach to such an iconic figure as Chaplin promises a definitive and vivid portrait, making this pioneering figure of early cinema relevant to 21st-century young audiences as much as classic film fans.” 

Ben Limberg (Smaller Biggie) and John Battsek (Passion Pictures) will produce alongside Mike Brett (Archer’s Mark), bringing award-winning experience from previous films including Listen to Me Marlon [+see also:
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and Notes on Blindness. The movie is being made in association with Fee Fie Foe.

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