In a day and age where superhero and comic book movies are sequelized on a monthly basis, an unlikely franchise has been born. Fox Searchlight announced today that production has begun in India for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2, a follow-up to their highly successful 2012 release that featured an All Star British cast.
A lucrative summer alternative when released (it opened in North America the same weekend as The Avengers, the second highest grossing film of all time), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was met with outstanding word-of-mouth and healthy staying power; the John Madden-directed film grossed well over one hundred million dollars at the box office worldwide. Appealing to both families and a somewhat older crowd, the film starred Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy as aging Brits looking to find solace and life affirmations in beautiful India.
"I've reached a point where I'm in sync with an audience of senior citizens, and am making four pictures for them this year," Shirley MacLaine, a co-star of Smith's on PBS' Downton Abbey, famously said two years ago. "They have no movies made for them. How many times can you see Batman? Things are done according to money these days."
Soon after, Exotic Marigold star Judi Dench remarked, ""It seems to me there is a change in what audiences want to see," she said. "I can only hope that's correct, because there's an awful lot of people of my age around now and we outnumber the others," she said. "I don't think films about elderly people have been made very much. But I think of [films like] Cocoon and Driving Miss Daisy and they always seem to be fairly successful, so it's a bit baffling as to why everybody has to be treated as if they were five years old."
The upcoming sequel will reunite Dench, Smith and Nighy with director John Madden and screenwriter Ol Parker. Joining the cast will be Golden Globe Award winner Richard Gere, Academy Award nominee David Strathairn and Tamsin Greig.
The film will be distributed worldwide by Fox Searchlight Pictures, who are co-financing the production with Participant Media and Image Nation Abu Dhabi. "We're thrilled to reunite our creative and delightful Marigold Hotel family along with some intriguing new ‘guests’," Fox Searchlight Pictures President of Production Claudia Lewis remarked. "With John Madden's direction and Ol Parker's original screenplay, we look forward to further exploring our characters' rich stories and triumphs.”
"This film presented us with an irresistible opportunity: to continue a story we realized we had only just begun," continued Madden, an Oscar-nominated director for 1998’s Best Picture winner Shakespeare in Love. “Not to tell the same story again, but to pursue where the lives of these very different characters lead, with an audience which already holds them in great affection.”