Kate and Gerry 'plan £2m film deal' as Madeleine Fund dwindles
By VANESSA ALLEN
Last updated at 09:06 09 January 2008
Kate and Gerry McCann could make £2million from a film deal over the story of their daughter's disappearance, it has been claimed.
Representatives of the couple have begun negotiations with the world's largest entertainment agency, IMG, over selling the rights to their story.
They hope a lucrative deal would fund the continuing search for Madeleine amid fears that the £1.2million raised from public donations will run out within months.
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Missing: Madeleine may become the subject of a film that would raise funds for the McCanns' search
But Gerry McCann was quick to deny the story.
(McCann was quick to deny it because the nation was appalled )
In his latest blog entry on the official Find Madeleine website, he wrote: "We can categorically deny that we are considering a movie about Madeleine's disappearance.
"This is simply untrue. We are approached by a huge number of media outlets regarding a myriad of projects, only a tiny proportion of which we agree to.
"Each proposal is considered on whether it is likely to have a positive effect, either directly or indirectly, on the search for Madeleine.
"There was a preliminary discussion between a production agency and a representative of Kate and I to discuss the possibility of a documentary about the issues we have faced since Madeleine was abducted.
"Clearly Europe is a long way behind the USA in terms of its response when a child goes missing."
Gerry's statement follows warnings that the McCanns would risk a public backlash if they were perceived to be cashing in on the eight-month tragedy.
So far the McCanns, both 39, have turned down offers from big-name chat shows and television dramas as they were anxious to avoid being seen as celebrities.
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However the flood of donations after Madeleine went missing on May 3 slowed to a trickle when they were named as police suspects in September.
The couple's spokesman Clarence Mitchell confirmed that their representatives began talks with IMG last month, and said they would consider only "something done sensitively and considerately".
At the same time, however, Portuguese police are preparing to fly to Britain to oversee fresh interviews with the couple and the group of seven friends who were on holiday with them in Praia da Luz when Madeleine vanished.
Even now, leaks from inside the inquiry have suggested that police believe they have enough evidence to charge the couple, possibly with 'accidental homicide', hiding a body or faking a crime.
A publicist, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the high-profile case, said: "It seems extraordinary to be negotiating film rights while they are still suspects in the investigation. It's a huge risk."
The McCanns set up the Find Madeleine fund in May to finance the search for their four-year-old daughter. It has been used to fund a private detective agency, Metodo 3, and to pay their living costs while they both took extended unpaid leave from their jobs as doctors.
But it hit controversy last year when it was revealed that they had used the public donations to pay two £2,000 instalments of the mortgage on their £500,000 house in Rothley, Leicestershire.
The directors of the fund - mostly friends and colleagues of the McCanns - control how the money is used. They are due to meet today and are expected to discuss the film deal proposal.
If the deal goes ahead with IMG, it would involve the same team which made Touching The Void, the award-winning drama-documentary about two British mountaineers' fight for survival in the Peruvian Andes. It interspersed interviews with the mountaineers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, with a dramatic reconstruction of events, using actors.
A film about the McCanns' search for their daughter could use a similar format, but only if Mr and Mrs McCann were formally cleared as arguidos, official suspects, in the inquiry. While they remain arguidos they are banned from speaking publicly about the events of May 3 and the police investigation.
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The company which made Touching the Void, Darlow Smithson Productions, has sent Mr and Mrs McCann a tape to show them how it would treat their story. A spokesman said the firm "had a preliminary meeting with representatives of the McCanns about the possibility of an observational documentary following the ongoing search for Madeleine.
"Discussions are still at a very early stage and the issue of money has never been raised."
Jonathan Dean, of the magazine Total Film, said he believed the movie rights could go for up to £2million. Disgraced banker Nick Leeson earned a reported £450,000 when he sold the rights to his autobiography, Rogue Trader.
Offers to Austrian kidnap victim Natascha Kampusch were said to have topped £1million.
Clarence Mitchell said: "We've not agreed anything, we're not about to sign anything. We like the proposal, we thought it was fair, but there are others."
He added: "It would be commercially naive if we did not ask for a donation to the Madeleine fund. We would be giving up the rights to a lot of money which could help to find her.
"Any money raised that way would go to the fund, which Kate and Gerry do not control. This is not about personal gain for them.
"Madeleine's Fund is spent on investigators and advertising. It's dwindling. The money is going. I would imagine we've got a few months left. It's not going to last the year unless we get more money in."
Mr Mitchell said a book deal was also being considered "at some point down the line". He confirmed reports that one of the directors of the fund, former GMTV presenter Esther McVey, had resigned from the board, but denied it was because of any rift with the McCanns.
He said she wanted to concentrate on her role as a Conservative parliamentary candidate and was also about to start studying for a demanding MBA qualification.
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