sign up for Marathon, the movie
By Chris Hastings and Beth Jones
When it was first run a quarter of a century ago, it attracted
just 7,000 competitors of whom more than 1,000 did not manage
to cross the finishing line.
Today, it is one of the world's most famous sporting events,
attracts almost 50,000 athletes a year, huge crowds of supporters
and has been completed by more than 500,000 people.
Now, the London Marathon is set for a starring role on cinema
screens around the world - as the subject of its own Hollywood
film, entitled simply Marathon.
Johnny Lee Miller, the star of Trainspotting, Toby Stephens,
who was a Bond villain in Die Another Day and Parminder Nagra,
the star of Bend it Like Beckham, are set to star in the £20
million film which is being dubbed the new Chariots of Fire.
The cast will be entered into this year's race on April 23
to ensure that the film captures the drama of the event which
is watched by millions around the world.
Tim Sullivan, the director of Jack and Sarah who is making
the film, has been given permission by the marathon's organisers
to place 25 camera crews along the 26-mile route.
The shoot, which is due to begin in early March, will be
one of the most logistically complex in recent film history.
The Notting Hill director Roger Mitchell, who is the co-producer
of the film, has also secured exclusive access to BBC footage
of this year's event.
Tim Sullivan, who is writing and directing the film, told
the Sunday Telegraph he was confident that the film would
have international appeal.
"The reason I thought it would make a good film is that
although I am not a fan of athletics I find myself watching
the race every year," he said. "Every time I see
the bobbing heads at the beginning I well up.
"I remember watching the the Commonwealth Games in Manchester
and as the marathon winner, who wasn't even British, ran around
a street corner, this gruff Northern voice shouted 'Come on
"That is the sort of emotion that we are trying to capture
with this film," he said.
The new film will tell the story of six strangers, who all
have different reasons for entering the event.
The first half of the film will concentrate on the background
stories of the characters while the race will dominate the
final third of the film.
"Marathon is about ordinary people and why they choose
to come together in this event," said Mr Sullivan.
''They are from different layers of society. The London Marathon
is an extraordinary leveller of people. Millionaire chief
executives run alongside the most humble."
He added: "Our cast will be official race entrants but
they will not be expected to run the whole 26 miles."
Films about British sport have enjoyed mix fortunes at the
Chariots of Fire, which told the story of the British runners
Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams as they competed in the 1924
Olympics, won four Oscars including best film.
Bend It Like Beckham, which featured Parminder Nagra as a
schoolgirl obsessed with football, and launched the career
of Keira Knightley, was an unexpected hit in America.
Other films, however, have not proved to be winners. Last
year's Wimbledon, a love story set around the annual tennis
tournament, received a lukewarm response.