Film Based on French Comic Book Duo Blake and Mortimer Searches for Leads

In the vein of “The League of Extraordinary Gentleman,” are you ready for another comic book adaptation set in the past to make the transition from the printed page to the big screen?

The film adaptation of the French comic book featuring Captain Francis Blake and Professor Phillip Mortimer is finally seeing some movement, as principal photography is set to begin this July in both Canada and the United Kingdom, has learned. Created by one of the founding fathers of the European comic movement, Edgar P. Jacobs, “M” (a comic book that was hugely popular in French at the time of their printing and whose film adaptation was once known as “Yellow M”) has seen a number of changes: It has a different title, the two actors attached as the lead characters have since moved on to pursue other projects and it increased the number of production companies involved from one to three.

James Huth remains the director for the realistic detective science-fiction film, which is reportedly budgeted at around $33 million. Taking place in England circa 1953, “M” has been said to be the most ambitious French project currently scheduled for production this year.

Rufus Sewell (“Extreme Ops,” “A Knight’s Tale”) and Hugh Bonneville (“Conspiracy of Silence”) were previously attached to play the two lead roles, but this has since changed according to our sources, something that is now backed by casting notes we were able to obtain. In these, Blake is listed as being between the wide-ranging ages of 20 and 45 years old and described as “tall, and dashingly handsome.” This quintessential British adventurer/agent has the ranking of 001 in the British Secret Service and occasionally helps Ian Fleming with story ideas. Bright, intuitive, witty and suave, Blake works closely with his favorite partner, Professor Phillip Mortimer, with whom he’s shared many adventures. Called in by the Prime Minister when a mysterious creature begins wreaking havoc on English citizens, leaving them either dead or insane, Blake turns to Mortimer for assistance and the two use their unique combination of brains and brawn (though each has his fair share of both) to uncover a dastardly plot to rule the world through a mind-controlling “mega-wave.”

Mortimer is also given a quarter-decade’s age range, with 30 years old being the low end. A noted, good-looking British professor and adventurer, he works closely with Blake, and shares his courage and savoir-faire under pressure. Recently widowed of his poet wife, Mortimer is perhaps a bit brainier than Blake, but every bit as capable in the brawn category. After joining forces with Blake, he falls in love with the equally mysterious Dr. Er Mao Tseng. Alternately outraged and captivated by Er Mao, Mortimer eventually finds that she’s an unwitting part of the evil plan to control the minds of ordinary people everywhere, and with Blake’s help, Mortimer manages to save Er Mao and the free world.

As this article was posted, it is not known if Chinese actress Gong Li (“Shanghai Triad,” “Raise the Red Lantern”) was still a member of the cast, as was reported in September. The character she was set to play was Dr. Li Mei, which might be an earlier incarnation of the above Dr. Tseng role.

Since earlier press reports, UK’s Spicc Factory and Canada’s TransFilm have become involved as production companies as well, joining France’s Telema as co-financing the picture. Huth and Sonja ShiIlito are credited here as the film’s screenwriters.

The Scorecard
Executive Producer: Jonathan Vanger
Producers: Charles Gassot, Claude Leger, Michael Cawan and Jason Piette
Director: James Huth
Writers: James Huth and Sonja ShiIlito
Casting Directors: Donald Paul Pemrick and Dean F. Fronk
Start Date: July 2004
Location: Canada and the United Kingdom
Production Companies: Spicc Factory, Telema and TransFilm