A partnership boasting several successful movies among them have purchased rights to the Queen Mary's multiple stories, and announced Monday, March 1, that a trilogy of horror movies is in the works.
Much of the partnership is based in England, including director Gary Shore ("Dracula Untold") and financial backer Rocket Science. The star of the first movie, Alice Eve, works on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
But the project itself was birthed in Southern California by Brett Tomberlin of Imagination Design Works. Tomberlin is co-founder and president of Production/Acquisitions at the company based in Orange County.
This is the second push for the "Queen Mary" movie by this group; Tomberlin said he tried to get the movie off the ground last spring but ran into the coronavirus pandemic.
"We tried to get out in front of it," Tomberlin said Monday from Laguna Beach. "But you needed COVID insurance, and you know how many companies were offering COVID insurance? Zero."
Today, COVID-19 insurance is available for movie production, and the consortium announced signing of Alice Eve as the star of the first movie. A great deal of preliminary work has been done on LED screens and other sets for filming in England, Tomberlin said, with plans to shoot aboard the ship sometime in May.
Tomberlin said he and his partners were well aware of the bankruptcy filing in January of Urban Commons, the leaseholder and Queen Mary operator, along with a number of related companies. He said those legal issues would not disrupt the movie plans or shooting on the ship.
"We think now is a good time (to make a movie)," Tomberlin said. "There's not much out there now. With luck the theaters will be opening again around the time we're ready, and we can go to the streaming services too."
The ship, owned by the city, has been a location for multiple movies and television shows. In 2015, there was an attempt to make a movie focused on the Queen Mary called "Vessels," but there's no sign it was ever released.
Tomberlin said he is very familiar with the Queen Mary, and believes it will be a great star for the trilogy.
"The Queen Mary is an amazing ship," he said. "It's one of the most popular haunted spots in the world… Time Magazine named it the most haunted place in the world.
"There's something about it; it's really the unsinkable ship considering how much it has gone through, how many times they've threatened to take it apart," he added. "It's still there."
Director Gary Shore's debut film, "Dracula Untold," was shot with a $70 million budget and grossed $217 million in the United States, according to the film's website. He visited the Queen Mary, and came up with the idea for a trilogy, Tomberlin said. Shore is cowriting the script with Stephen Oliver and Tom Vaughan.
Eve, an American-English actress has movie credits including "She's Out of My League," "Men in Black 3," "Star Trek Into Darkness," and "Before We Go." She also has multiple television credits and currently is shooting "The Power" for Amazon.
Tomberlin said the budget for shooting the first "Queen Mary" is between $10.5 million and $12.5 million. While he declined to go into detail regarding the story, he did say the over-arching storyline revolves around the Queen Mary's first-class swimming pool, which is often considered the most haunted spot on the ship.
"This isn't going to be a slasher horror movie," Tomberlin said. "We want it to be an elegant thriller — befitting the Queen."