Welsh writer premieres Shakespeare Gnome pic in Hollywood

February 5, 2011

NEW Disney 3-D flick Gnomeo and Juliet nearly didn’t make it from the pen of a Welsh writer to the screen – because a Hollywood agent had no idea what a gnome was.

The star-studded CGI movie, which stars the voices of James McAvoy and Emily Blunt as the star-crossed lovers, was scripted by Newport writer John Smith and writing partner Rob Sprackling after they came up with the idea 11 years ago.

But the work was packed away after it was given the thumbs-down in LA.

Mr Smith, 47, said: “We ended up putting the script in a drawer and forgetting about it for a year.”

Then John – who wrote the football comedy Mike Bassett: England Manager starring Ricky Tomlinson – made some changes with Rob.

They posted it to a London agent who sent it to Elton John’s Rocket Pictures. Disney then snapped up the script for the $25m flick.

But there was another stumbling block. Insiders at the legendary US studio apparently felt the movie was too quirky for the mainstream.

One was quoted on Eltonfan.net saying: “We could never quite get the balance of story elements right.

“This film was supposed to be a parody of Romeo and Juliet. We wanted the audience to care about these lawn gnomes and what they were going through. And on top of that, we were being told to shoehorn in as many Elton John songs as possible.”

Elton, who has been involved in the project since at least 2003, is executive producer on the film.

“What we wound up with was something long on whimsy but really short on heart,” the source said.

“There were individual bits, characters and sequences that were great. Really fun. But the story as a whole didn’t hold together.”

So the project was shifted to Disney subsidiary Miramax – which produced Quentin Tarantino’s bullet and blood fest Pulp Fiction.

Things worked out better there.

Gnomeo and Juliet – which also stars Maggie Smith, Patrick Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne and Michael Caine – premiered in Hollywood this week.

“It was amazing to see my idea being premiered to all these stars,” added Mr Smith, a former student at Cardiff’s Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. “I am very proud.”

Read More http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/01/30/welsh-writer-premieres-shakespeare-gnome-pic-in-hollywood-91466-28079295/#ixzz1D5iEU96S

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