EXCLUSIVE: Bear Grylls’ Natural Studios, the JV with Banijay, has set Escape From Pretoria director Francis Annan to helm its first scripted movie, a contemporary reworking of The Count Of Monte Cristo.
Annan is newly aboard to script and direct the film, which will be set in Afghanistan.
As previously announced, the project is being produced by Into The Wild With Bear Grylls producer Natural Studios and Pure Grass’s Ben Grass (Twist) and Christophe Charlier (Race). The previous script came from Tom Williams (Kajaki).
The movie will focus on the friendship and bitter rivalry that develops between two special forces soldiers who are sent to war in Afghanistan.
Grylls, who was Emmy nominated this week for Running Wild With Bear Grylls, said with producing partner Delbert Shoopman: “It’s fantastic to welcome Francis to the team on this new adventure. We were enthralled by Escape From Pretoria, and loved the nail-biting, palpable tension that Francis brought to it, and we’re looking forward to him making a sophisticated thriller with style, telling this classic never-give-up story with heart and soul.”
Ben Grass and Christophe Charlier added: “We’re really thrilled to be working with Francis, and think his ability to make edge-of-your-seat thrillers with intrigue and scale make him a great fit for this project. We’re excited about the journey ahead.”
Brit filmmaker Annan has recently moved from UK agency ARG to United Agents. Among his projects in the works are movie Five Streets One Summer’s Day, a period thriller based on events that sparked the 1958 Notting Hill riots. It follows a beleaguered West Indian jazz musician who gets caught up in the riots in search of his mysteriously-disappeared Scandinavian wife. Annan is producing with Michael Auret.
Daniel Radcliffe and Daniel Webber starred in Annan’s 2020 thriller Escape From Pretoria, about the real-life prison break of two political captives.