Universal Pictures and Working Title Films announced today that principal photography began March 3, 2008, on The Boat That Rocked, the new comedy about rock and roll, boys and a boat from filmmaker Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral). Inspired by the British pirate radio revolution in the ’60s, the majority of the film’s shoot will take place in a large rusty metal fishing trawler moored off the coast of England in the very waters that kept the rock of the ’60s booming into the U.K.
In 1966 — arguably British pop music’s finest era — the BBC played only two hours of rock and roll every week. But pirate radio blasted rock and pop from the high seas 24 hours a day. And 25 million people — more than half the population of Britain — listened to these pirates every single day.
The Boat That Rocked is an ensemble comedy in which the romance takes place between the young people of the ’60s and pop music. It’s about a band of rogue DJs that captivated Britain, playing the music that defined a generation and standing up to a government that, incomprehensibly, preferred jazz.
The Boat That Rocked is written by Richard Curtis, the Emmy-, BAFTA- and WGA Award-winning filmmaker whose projects have included films from Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Love Actually to Mr. Bean and Blackadder. It will also be directed by Curtis– his second directorial outing, but first non-rom-com.
Leading the cast are Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson’s War, The Savages) as The Count, a big, brash, American god of the airwaves; Bill Nighy (Love Actually, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End) as Quentin, the boss of Radio Rock — a pirate radio station in the middle of the North Sea that’s populated by an eclectic crew of rock and roll DJs; Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, Elizabeth: The Golden Age) as Gavin, the greatest DJ in Britain who has just returned from his drug tour of America to reclaim his rightful position; Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) as Dave, an ironic, intelligent and cruelly funny co-broadcaster; and Kenneth Branagh (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Hamlet) as British Minister Dormandy, a fearsome government official out for blood against the drug takers and lawbreakers of a once-great nation. The film also stars Tom Sturridge, Jack Davenport, Ralph Brown, Chris O’Dowd and January Jones.
Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner produce the film with Hilary Bevan Jones. Danny Cohen is the film’s cinematographer; Mark Tildesley serves as the production designer. The editor is Emma Hickox. The costume designer is Joanna Johnston. The comedy is executive-produced by Working Title’s Debra Hayward and Liza Chasin.