Despite the tragic death of over twenty of the best polo horses in the world this past Sunday, Of Kings & Cowboys, the first-ever movie to feature professional polo, continues to receive financing and to move rapidly through pre-production. The astonishing death of the horses occurred at the International Polo Club in Wellington, Florida, just prior to a game of the prestigious U. S. Open Polo Tournament.
“This is an unprecedented tragedy,” said David Marlett, writer/director of the film. Marlett was in Wellington at the time of the deaths, scouting locations for the movie to be produced though his company, BlueRun Productions. “The Open will be portrayed in the film, but of course not this tragedy exactly. But we do show that men and horses are killed, albeit rarely, playing the oldest and most majestic of sports.”
Some casting has begun, with announcements expected in the coming weeks, with many notable names in circulation. “Being the first such film, it offers an array of very unique roles,” said Marlett. “And it helps that ICM gave it such good coverage. We’re happy for all the glowing reviews of the script, and of our plans, especially in these difficult times for film financing.” Marlett would not reveal which major actors are currently being courted for the lead roles. In addition, the producers are working on a to-be-patented HD camera stabilization system that will, according to Marlett, “show highly unstable action sequences, like polo, in ways previously unattainable without heavy dosages of CG.”
BlueRun recently announced it has entered into a Five Million Dollar financing agreement with Mandela Polo Productions, SRL, toward the funding of the film, budgeted just north of $25M. The balance is anticipated through additional investors, most likely from the UAE; and Lionsgate is now rumored to be circling the project.
Helmed by writer/theater-director David Marlett, Of Kings & Cowboys is an action/drama set in the second-most-deadly sport: professional polo. “We are very excited about Ramiro joining our team,” said Marlett, referring to Ramiro Marini, the Managing Director of Mandela. “The core of the story is not only the love shared between people, but our universal union with horses, making this perhaps the ultimate international story. Nowhere is that bond more gracefully portrayed than on the ranches of Texas and the estancias of Argentina. So Ramiro and his Argentinean partners are ideal.”
“Today the leading polo players in the world are Argentinean, with names such as Cambiaso, Heguy and Pieres,” said Marini, an Argentinean investment attorney living and working in San Francisco and Buenos Aires. “It meant a great deal to us that David took care to respect that culture and influence in his beautiful script. We are excited about this opportunity to participate.”
Though the film focuses on the riders and horses, and not so much on the glittering crowds, there is the issue of presenting a sport presumed to be so elitist. “It’s a romance first,” said Marlett. “It’s more drama and less sports film. We know 99% of our audience won’t know anything about polo except the symbol on their shirt. That’s a good thing. It leaves lots of room in their heads and hearts for us to weave our story.” Marlett directed a promo of the film last fall, available on BlueRun’s site: www.BlueRunProductions.com. The movie’s principal photography is slated to commence next spring in Texas, Florida, the UK, UAE and Argentina.
BlueRun’s first three films, Of Kings & Cowboys, Russian Warmblood, and Fast Women Beautiful Horses, are all equestrian themed. “That’s no accident,” said Marlett. “No major horse-centered film has ever failed to make a profit over its budget, and except for Hidalgo, they all ended up well in the black. That’s a staggering statistic that no other theme or genre can claim, and we’re the only ones capturing it. The almost ‘spiritual’ love of horses is international, well-demonstrated by the worldwide outpouring of emotions regarding these tragic deaths in Florida. Marlett blogs the ‘making of’ the film at www.OfKingsandCowboys.com.