MATINEE IDOL is a feelgood romance that pays homage to some of the greatest romantic films of all time – it’s a love story about love stories from the directors of romance ORDINARY LOVE [Liam Neeson/Leslie Manville- 93% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes] and Netflix mystery/romance limited-series OBSESSION opened #4 in Netflix Global TOP 10.

A hopeless romantic, inspired by the leading men from his favourite classic movies, tries to woo the girl of his dreams by recreating Hollywood’s most beloved love stories only to learn that it takes more than grand gestures to turn fantasy into reality.


The film is a NOTTING HILL for a new generation, in a 35mm picture palace instead of a bookshop.


Casting underway.


Directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa & Glenn Leyburn (ORDINARY LOVE [Liam Neeson/Leslie Manville], GOOD VIBRATIONS (95% on rotten tomatoes- ‘Joyous, but with a serious edge’ Little White Lies). and hit Netflix mystery/romance mini-series OBSESSION starring Charlie Murphy & Richard Armitage).


The film is produced by Rooks Nest Entertainment [Robert Eggers’ Sundance Directing Award 2015 winning THE WITCH [$40m WW], HERE BEFORE with Andrea Riseborough [SXSW 2021], SURGE with Ben Wishaw [winner Special Jury Award for acting & nominated for Grand Jury Prize Sundance 2020], THE OTHER LAMB [TIFF 2019], SMALL CRIMES [SXSW 2017], TRAMPS [TIFF 2016, Netflix], OBVIOUS CHILD [winner Red Crown Producer’s Award Sundance 2014], Joanna Hogg’s EXHIBITION [2013], THE TRUTH ABOUT EMMANUEL [nominated Grand Jury Prize Sundance 2013], MY BROTHER THE DEVIL [winner Grand Jury Prize Sundance 2012], etc]. Rooks Nest currently has projects in development with Fox Searchlight, BBC Films and the British Film Institute. MATINEE IDOL is a UK production.


Synopsis: Patrick lives in an English country town and works at a small independent cinema brimming with nostalgic charm. He inherited it from his late father along with a love of old Hollywood movies. The business is close to collapse because he refuses to go commercial with his film choices. Every night he sits in the projector room watching classic films on 35mm and mouthing along with the charismatic leading men. He meets Annie, an American girl, on a dating app and they hit it off. But while they engage in pleasant small talk he dreams of grand romantic gestures. In his imagination he acts out scenes from CASABLANCA, HIS GIRL FRIDAY, BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, GREASE, TITANIC, LADY AND THE TRAMP, SAY ANYTHING, NOTTING HILL, FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL. His silhouetted profile pictures gives little away and he puts off meeting in person; he doesn’t think he’s worthy of someone as cool as her. When eventually she asks to see what he looks like in a panic he sends a photo of his handsome father when he was young- and also gives his name: Mark Willis. He arranges to meet up with the intention of coming clean and introducing himself properly but chickens out. Thinking she’s been stood up Annie tracks down the last known residence of Mark Willis and turns up at Patrick’s front door. Patrick blurts out that Mark was his step brother who died just the other day in a horrific bee attack. Now able to shed the skin of the handsome Mark he can get to know Annie as Patrick. It’s a fresh start and all he has to do is prevent his mother from finding out that Annie thinks she was sexting her late husband. He still dreams of impressing Annie with a big romantic gesture and works up the courage to give it one final shot- but she has plans of her own.


Film References: The original concept is that we see scenes from Patrick’s life that, with a bit of help from his imagination, mirror the classic movies he idolises. Whether it’s him and Annie bumping into each other a la NOTTING HILL, drenched in both their coffees; standing in the rain as Annie unintentionally quotes FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL: ‘Is it raining? I hadn’t noticed’; dry ice pouring from the exhaust of a passing car shrouding everything in a theatrical mist; a crowd breaking into a spectacular high-kicking routine in a kaleidoscope of color and movement; or Patrick declaiming his passion in clipped screwball comedy patter- until he’s interrupted by a passer-by’s ‘you alright mate?’. When Patrick wears a leather jacket, pops the collar, and slicks back his hair in his mind he’s John Travolta in GREASE. When Annie says ‘we’ll always have Keswick’ it’s as if they are Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in CASABLANCA. From goofy moments like Annie biting into the other end of Patrick’s sausage LADY AND THE TRAMP style, or Patrick holding up his phone to play music outside Annie’s window like John Cusack’s ghetto blaster in SAY ANYTHING, to more sombre daydreams like Patrick dreaming he’s a naval officer rescuing Annie from the wreckage of the Titanic, we see the world through Patrick’s eyes- filled with Hollywood movie magic.

MATINEE IDOL is an original romantic comedy that targets a core female audience keen on films such as PALM SPRINGS, THE BIG SICK, ABOUT TIME, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, 500 DAYS OF SUMMER, EMPIRE OF LIGHT… And also targets the arthouse audiences keen on films such as CINEMA PARADISO, THE ARTIST…

Status: Pre-Production shooting Q2 2024