Love “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel?” Love Richard Gere? Well, consider your day made. Fox Searchlight announced today that production on a sequel to the British feelgood hit from 2012 is officially under way in India, with Fox Searchlight once more backing the enterprise, and the first film’s Oscar-nominated director John Madden (“Shakespeare in Love”) back behind the camera.
Most of the original ensemble is also back on board, including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup and Penelope Wilton. Tom Wilkinson, obviously enough, is not returning — shame they couldn’t write their way out of that, since I thought he was the first film’s MVP. There are, however, three high-profile new recruits: Richard Gere, Oscar nominee David Strathairn and the dependably excellent Tamsin Greig (“Tamara Drewe,” TV’s “Episodes”).
Where the first film was based on a popular novel by Deborah Moggach, “The Best Exotic Marigold 2” — as its currently titled — is based on an original story by Madden and returning screenwriter Ol Parker.
The new film finds the original gang still in residence at the eponymous Indian hotel run by a soon-to-be-married Sonny (Dev Patel), with Smith’s crotchety Muriel newly installed as co-manager. More romantic complications ensue amid the group, with Gere and Greig playing newly arrived guests vying for a single vacancy. Gere’s character is called Guy, so one good creative decision has already been made.
Madden says, “This film presented us with an irresistible opportunity: to continue a story we realized we had only just begun. 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.”
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” received a smattering of recognition in the 2012 awards season, including BAFTA, SAG and Golden Globe nods. But it was principally a people’s favorite: a smash in the UK, it also grossed over $46 million Stateside — proved the profitable rewards of targeting under-served older audiences; “Philomena” recently hit much the same sweet spot. So it makes sense that a sequel is on the way — will you be seeing it?.