or one off?
On the face of it, Slumdog
Millionaire was an unlikely best picture winner for the
often-conservative Academy voters.
It is set in India, it is frequently subtitled from Hindi and it
was not made by a Hollywood studio.
It was almost a straight to DVD movie after the company
releasing it was closed down. And on Oscar night it became the
first fully British-funded film to win best picture since 1949.
So what is behind its phenomenal success – and is it breaking
new ground in the film world?
Empire magazine’s features editor Dan Jolin thinks not.
“A lot of people are down about the recession, the time was
right for a film to come along and tell a rags-to-riches story,”
“Sure it had dark edges to it but at its heart it’s a very
feel-good, fairytale film.
“The film it was primarily up against, The Curious Case of
Benjamin Button, was a film about death whereas Slumdog
Millionaire was a film about getting the girl and several
UK Film Council chairman Stewart Till agrees that the film
chimed with the mood of the times, particularly in an optimistic
post-Obama America. But he thinks the film’s success is the
result of a new breed in the British industry.
“There’s a generation of producers and writers that understand
that films cost millions of pounds and so to be marketed they
will need to be commercial and work on a worldwide basis,” he
“I think there’s a real competitive commercialism that they have
and they’re less intimidated by Hollywood than they were 15
Slumdog Millionaire’s writer Simon Beaufoy said the film
demonstrates “there are more important things than money”. But
its success - it cost £7m to make and has taken £100m worldwide
– is encouraging backers to shell out for similar films.
“Financing looks for and chases success,” says Stewart Till.
“There’s the sense that British films are more successful than
they have been in living memory, so that will help.”
But on the front line of film-making, there are different views.
Director Mike Newell, who is currently working on big-budget
film Prince of Persia, also runs his own production company.
He agrees that Slumdog’s success might encourage a bit more risk
taking on very cheap films – but warns one good night at the
Oscars cannot counteract the global downturn.
“For bigger budget films, things are getting trickier,” he
explains. “There were black clouds on the horizon which simply
moved in and stayed.”
“Some will slide through, but it tends to make the big
financiers more conservative,” he adds.
“Those problems are now coming home to roost in very intimate
“People that we all know are struggling and not coming out on
the right side of the fight. Lots of small companies are under
extreme pressure and are simply going down.”
Slumdog Millionaire’s director Danny Boyle has made it clear he
does not think one film’s success can do too much for the
British film industry.
But he thinks there’s been a shift in Hollywood attitudes to
smaller, independent films.
“What the Academy has done is they’ve turned round at the end of
this terrible year for indie distribution and they’ve gone,
‘here’s an indie film, we’ll give it eight of our top awards’,”
“And that sends a signal.
“The industry’s clearly decided to say that those small
independent films are as important as the huge ones.”
Slumdog producer Christian Colson adds: “I think this is a
symptom of how Hollywood’s beginning to embrace a more-globalized
view of the world.”
But Empire’s Dan Jolin disagrees.
“There’s an argument that Slumdog is a Hollywood movie in
disguise,” he says. “I think there’s something Disney-esque in
its central conceit. I genuinely don’t think its a sign of any
long term opening of minds. I just think right place, right
Slumdog star could play
film’s gameshow for real
LONDON (AFP) – The star of
Oscar-winning hit film Slumdog Millionaire is in talks to appear
on the TV gameshow in which the rags-to-riches movie is based
on, a spokeswoman said Thursday.
Dev Patel, the 18-year-old British actor who plays Jamal, an
orphan from the Mumbai slums, in the film could appear on Who
Wants To Be A Millionaire? in Britain with the movie’s director
“We know that they’re interested, we’re in talks but nothing is
confirmed,” Melissa Goss, a spokeswoman for Two Way Traffic, the
firm which owns the show’s format rights, told AFP, confirming a
report in the Sun newspaper.
“We think it’s a great idea and it’s something we have been
If all sides reach agreement, a special charity edition of the
show could go out on Britain’s privately funded ITV channel
later this year, she added.
Railway Children, a charity which works with street children
whose plight is highlighted in the film, said it was in contact
with Boyle’s sister about the director and Patel doing a charity
edition of the show to benefit its work.
“We’re in talks with ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’ and we’re
in conversation with the Boyle family,” chief executive Terina
Keen told AFP.
“Danny Boyle’s schedule is somewhat busy but they’re supportive
of us as a charity.”