Filming begins today on the Roman epic adventure The Eagle of the Ninth, directed by Academy Award winner Kevin Macdonald and produced by Duncan Kenworthy. Shooting entirely on location in Hungary and Scotland, the film is co-financed by Film4 with Focus Features, which holds worldwide rights excluding U.K. free-TV.
The cast is headed by Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the upcoming Dear John), Jamie Bell (Defiance, Jumper), two-time Golden Globe Award winner Donald Sutherland, and Mark Strong (the upcoming Sherlock Holmes and Robin Hood). Macdonald is reunited on the new film with Jeremy Brock, BAFTA Award-winning screenwriter of his 2006 film The Last King of Scotland, who has adapted the screenplay of The Eagle of the Ninth from Rosemary Sutcliff’s classic novel of the same name.
Duncan Kenworthy, an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominee for Four Weddings and a Funeral, developed and is producing The Eagle of the Ninth through his Toledo Productions. Caroline Hewitt is co-producer. Focus senior vice president, European production Teresa Moneo who with Focus Features International president of sales and distribution Alison Thompson brought the project into the company is supervising the film’s production with Film4 head Tessa Ross.
The Eagle of the Ninth is set in the dangerous world of second-century Britain. In 140 AD, twenty years after the unexplained disappearance of the entire Ninth Legion in the mountains of Scotland, young centurion Marcus Aquila (Tatum) arrives from Rome to solve the mystery and restore the reputation of his father, the commander of the Ninth. Accompanied only by his British slave Esca (Bell), Marcus sets out across Hadrian’s Wall into the uncharted highlands of Caledonia to confront its savage tribes, make peace with his fathers memory, and retrieve the lost legion’s golden emblem, the Eagle of the Ninth. Sutherland portrays Marcus’ uncle Aquila, who has retired in Britain; Strong is cast as Guern, an ex-soldier who holds crucial information about the Ninth.
Anthony Dod Mantle, who won the Academy Award earlier this year for his cinematography of Slumdog Millionaire, is director of photography. 2009 Academy Award winner Michael O’Connor and Academy Award nominee Michael Carlin (both of The Duchess) are the film’s costume and production designers, respectively. Justine Wright will edit the film, marking her fifth consecutive feature collaboration with Mr. Macdonald.
“All of us at Focus are thrilled to be once again collaborating with our colleagues at Film4 their support for the most exciting voices in British filmmaking is unparalleled,” said Focus CEO James Schamus.
Film4 head Tessa Ross added, “We’re incredibly excited to be working again with the wonderful Kevin Macdonald and his brilliant collaborators on this great project Duncan, Jeremy, and our colleagues at Focus.”