Warners Plans Major Film on Lech Walesa
Lech Walesa, the leader of Poland’s Solidarity union, will be the subject of a major movie, Warner Bros. announced today.
Warner Bros. said the Polish electrician, who emerged during the Gdansk shipyard strike in 1980 and became a symbol of the move toward democracy in Eastern Europe, agreed to the movie deal during his five-day visit to Britain, which ended Sunday.
A Warner Bros. spokesman refused to disclose the price of rights and other details.
Walesa completed negotiations with Warner Bros. Saturday morning, delaying his meeting with British Prime Minster Margaret Thatcher, who was waiting at Chequers, her official country residence outside London.
Mark Canton, executive vice president for Warner Bros., said in London the company was proud and delighted to get the rights for Walesa’s story and said it was eager to portray some of the changes sweeping eastern Europe.
“In these times of extraordinary social and political change in Eastern Europe, we all recognized that it began with Lech Walesa and Solidarity in Poland,” Canton said in a statement.
Warner Bros. said it will produce the film with the Los Angeles-based Mount Company. Production of the as-yet-untitled movie is planned for 1990 with release expected the following year, a Warner Bros. official said.
A charity premiere of the film will benefit Solidarity’s Social Fund.
Walesa emerged as leader of the unorganized strikers in Gdansk, who at first protested government food price hikes, but under his leadership turned to political demands, including the right to free trade unions.
On Sunday before leaving for Poland, Walesa said that he would be having fewer press conferences in the future. He said the rise of a multi-party political system in Poland would make Solidarity more like a Western trade union.
Warner Bros. called Walesa’s role “a unique and inspiring story” that the company is excited to tell.