Releasing a foul-mouthed black comedy full of thick Irish accents and taboo-busting jokes at the height of summer was always going to be something of a risk. But John Michael McDonagh's "The Guard" has proved to be something of a sleeper hit; the film became one of the biggest-grossing home-grown movies of all time in Ireland, and has managed decent grosses in other English-speaking territories, including the U.S, where it's proved to have more legs than most speciality releases since it hit theaters back in August.
As such, McDonagh's becoming almost as sought-after as his brother, "In Bruges" helmer Martin McDonagh, and Screen Daily has the lowdown on the projects competing to be his next. Reprisal Films, the company set up with McDonagh by producers Chris Clark, Flora Fernandez-Marengo and Elizabeth Eves, has a pair of projects in development with the writer-director, the first being "Calvary," a drama that will see him work again with Brendan Gleeson, who picked up huge acclaim for his turn in "The Guard."
In "Calvary," Gleeson will play a priest who becomes a pariah in his community after an abuse scandal. McDonagh says, "There are probably films in development about priests which involve abuse. My remit is to do the opposite of what other people do, and I wanted to make a film about a good priest." The film marks a break from his debut, saying that it's "in the same darkly comedic vein as 'The Guard,' but with a much more serious and dramatic narrative.”
The film will be modestly budgeted, around the same mark as the $7m budget for "The Guard," but there's also a bigger-budget project in the works at the company, the deep-South-set "War On Everyone," about two corrupt policeman, which is apparently more in the vein of McDonagh's first film. Either project could turn out to be McDonagh's next; they're currently looking for financing, with the aim that whichever is the first to come together will shoot next summer, for a 2013 release.
They're not the only projects he's working on. There's also "Chaos Inc," a prospective TV show about a Las Vegas-based Buddhist private eye, and "The Bonnot Gang," a period gangster tale about a true-life group of French anarchist bank robbers who operated just before the First World War, which the director describes as "a cross between 'The Wild Bunch' and 'Le Samourai,'" which seems like a potent combination to us (the same material hit screens fairly recently in a French-language take, "The Tiger Brigades," with Diane Kruger).
Clark, who produced the recent "Johnny English Reborn," says "Reprisal is about four individuals coming together to make interesting, provocative films, primarily projects that John has written and will direct, which have an international element, whilst remaining as independent as possible,” and it seems like a pretty promising slate. We're sure we'll hear more in the coming months.