LONDON (Reuters) - Oscar-winning filmmaker Danny Boyle will direct the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, organizers said on Thursday, and he immediately promised a “thrilling welcome” for both athletes and the world.
Boyle, whose work includes “Shallow Grave,” “Trainspotting” and the hugely successful “Slumdog Millionaire,” acknowledged it may not be on the same scale as the last Games in Beijing, but he promised a “genuine and personal welcome.”
British director and producer Stephen Daldry, who has been involved with “Billy Elliot,” “The Hours” and “The Reader,” will be part of a four-man team which will oversee the opening and closing ceremonies for both the Olympic and Paralympics.
They will work within a total budget of 40 million pounds, which will come out of the overall 2 billion pound budget of Locog, the organization responsible for staging the Games.
A global TV audience of 1 billion people watched Beijing’s spectacular opening ceremony in 2008, which set the benchmark against previous ceremonies often deemed woeful and cheesy.
“You have got to acknowledge that it is not going to be like Beijing in terms of this overwhelming, intimidating scale,” Boyle told reporters.
“It will be more modest than that. But our job is to make sure that within those means it is spectacular and delivers a thrilling welcoming to the opening of the Games.”
There were few hints about what would be included, except that the lighting of the Olympic torch was central to their thinking, and “zombies would not be running around on stage.”
“I want to provide something fitting for this world event,” he added.
There were hints that part of the ceremony could be “bounced out” of the stadium.
Locog chairman Seb Coe said it was important not to just ape previous ceremonies, but to portray the different cities and their backgrounds.
Boyle, who has lived in east London where the Games will be held, said he jumped at the chance of being artistic director, and would take inspiration from sporting excellence and the city which had given him so many opportunities.
He will work on the project full-time from early next year after he has completed two projects he is already committed to including a stage production of “Frankenstein.”
Boyle, who said he was a better sports fan than competitor, praised the intimacy of the 80,000-seat main stadium where the ceremonies will be held, describing it as a “little wonder.”
Daldry said he did not view the project as a poisoned chalice.
They would not be tied to the 8-minute show put on by London during the hand-over ceremony in Beijing, organizers said.
The slot, which featured a red London bus and bowler-hatted dancers, cost 1.5 million pounds, but was widely criticized.
“It is a different show, and a different team,” Martin Green, Locog’s head of ceremonies, told Reuters.
Editing by Steve Addison