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January 21, 2014

Toronto play Kim’s Convenience being adapted for film and TV


Robert Everett-Green / The Globe and Mail

Ins Choi’s hit play Kim’s Convenience could get a lot more convenient if a new joint venture by Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre Company and Vancouver’s Thunderbird Films comes off as planned. The companies have announced they will work together on a range of projects for film, TV and digital media, beginning with a film and TV series based on Choi’s play, which Soulpepper is currently touring to major Canadian cities.

“We like Soulpepper a lot, we think it’s an extraordinarily creative place,” says Ivan Fecan, executive chairman of Thunderbird Films. “We’ve been dating for awhile and now we’re kind of shacking up with them.”

The two companies have been talking since last spring, says Fecan, who notes that Thunderbird wasn’t the theatre group’s only suitor. He says the film and TV series of Kim’s Convenience will be developed simultaneously with Choi’s participation, though how and when they might appear would depend on how much interest is shown by distributors and production investors. “This is more than just taking an option,” he says.

“We are immensely proud of our original theatrical productions and have long been committed to exploring other avenues to share those works,” says Albert Schultz, Soulpepper’s artistic director, in a prepared statement. “Thunderbird is a great match for us.”

Soulpepper is jumping into what is becoming a crowded field of Canadian theatrical producers with plans to get their work on screen. In November, the Stratford Festival said it will begin filming three to four shows a year for distribution in Canada and abroad.

The rush of interest in filmed theatre follows the successful incursion into Canadian cinemas of filmed productions by Britain’s National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the Metropolitan Opera.

Thunderbird holds a catalogue of Canadian TV shows that includes Da Vinci’s Inquest, and has a 50 per cent stake in a forthcoming Blade Runner film sequel.