New Zealand father & son filmmaking-team Lance and James Morcan recently told New Zealand website Voxy that their long-planned biopic on South African weightlifter Precious McKenzie, The Precious One, is still on hold, due to financial constraints.
If, and when, the film is ever made, actors Kevin Hart and Tatyana Ali will play the roles of McKenzie and his wife, Elizabeth. The Morcans have secured the directorial services of Roger Spottiswoode (Shoot To Kill, Tomorrow Never Dies), and have signed on actors Nick Nolte, Kim Basinger, and John Rhys-Davies, as well. Lord Of The Rings Executive Producer Mark Ordesky is to co-produce.
Born in 1936, Precious McKenzie is a former weightlifter who, along with his young family, fled apartheid-gripped South Africa for England. Overcoming similar adversity in his new home, McKenzie, standing at a mere 4'9'', won Commonwealth titles representing both England and New Zealand and has won several World powerlifting and Masters World powerlfting titles.
From what I gather, this project has been seeking financial backing since as far back as 2008, if not earlier. The New Zealand father-and-son team told Voxy that they’ll “continue to seek finance to greenlight their biopic based on the life story of Precious McKenzie, MBE.”
James Morcan told Voxy, "The Precious One is a real passion project for us. We have invested almost a decade of our lives into it, from initial development meetings with Precious, to writing and perfecting the screenplay over many years, to eventually finding the right director, cast and crew. We consider it one of the best scripts we have written and firmly believe this underdog story has a real X-factor. Precious' life contains universal themes that we predict will transcend borders and touch audiences worldwide upon release."
Morcan told Voxy that he and his father “have been on the verge of fully financing the US$7.9 million film production on several occasions, only to have the deal fall apart at the 11th hour on each occasion.”
"One deal fell through because of the global financial crisis, and another was due to a high level Kiwi investor abruptly deciding he would only finance the film provided Lance and I were not part of the production."
The Morcans aren’t sure, but believe that the investor’s issue might have originated in a misunderstanding.
"It's bizarre that somebody would love the screenplay we wrote," says James, "and be keen to invest in a production we ourselves created from scratch, yet want us off that production before financing it. Now obviously this film can never be made without us, but it is a tricky thing to educate investors who have had no prior experience with the film industry."
Regardless, James says the production team are now approaching other potential financiers and have total faith they will eventually be standing on South African soil filming The Precious One.
"Unfortunately, the film does not qualify for NZFC funding. Financing it is obviously a big challenge, but everything in the film industry always is. You have to be committed to each project for the long haul.
"It took Sir Richard Attenborough 15 years to finance Gandhi. And like Gandhi, this film has to be made."