It may be Oscar season now, but studios across Hollywood are still planning their potential contenders for 2011 and beyond.  One of the regular players, Fox Searchlight, announced that a new John Madden directed dramedy, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," will begin shooting on Oct. 10 in India.

The picture will reunite Madden with his "Shakespeare in Love" stars Judi Dench, who won a best supporting actress Oscar for the Miramax romantic comedy, and Tom Wilkinson. "Hotel" also features Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Dev Patel.  Madden also worked with Dench on his big screen breakthrough, "Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown."

Based on the novel by Deborah Moggach, "Marigold Hotel" centers on a group of British retirees who decide to spend their later years in the less expensive and exotically exciting South East Asia power.  Believing paradise awaits them at the Marigold Hotel, they soon discover an unexpectedly more difficult new life. 

In a statement released by the studio, Madden said, “This is a gorgeous script – witty, moving and hilarious – with a wonderful feel for its subject – India.  It’s rare to find one that traverses comedy, romance, and melancholy with such a lightness of touch and it’s proved to be a magnet for the cast of your dreams: actors I know and would want to work with in every film – Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson; and actors I’d feel lucky to be in the room with – Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, and an amazing ensemble.  It’s a great project about a world that defies all categorization. No one could come to India and not be changed by it.”

After the disappointing critical and box office returns of "Captain Corelli's Mandolin," "Proof" and "Killshot," Madden is on something of an upswing with fine notices for his work on the upcoming Helen Mirren and Sam Worthington thriller "The Debt" (third act jump the shark moment aside).  Searchlight is obviously setting this up for potential awards play next Fall.  And, judging by their illustrious and impressive track record, who can blame them?


 

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