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‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2’ Begins Production With Newcomers Richard Gere, David Strathairn

Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy return

“The Best Exotic Marigold 2” has begun production in India with much of the original cast returning for the follow-up to the snowbirds in Asia comedy.

John Madden will one again direct the picture, which is adding Richard Gere and David Strathairn to its cast. Signing on for another stint are Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton who starred as a group of English retirees who find a vibrant second life for themselves in India. Dev Patel who played the owner of the hotel where the guests come to stay and begin their journey of self-discovery rounds out the cast, along with “Episodes” star Tamsin Greig.

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The new film follows Patel’s character as he juggles his plans for expansion and an impending marriage. There are also romances and interpersonal issues in store for the hotel’s original guests.

Fox Searchlight Pictures has worldwide rights and will co-finance the film in association with Participant Media and Image Nation Abu Dhabi. The first film was a sleeper hit when it debuted in the summer of 2012, taking in $135 million worldwide on a production budget of $10 million.

“We’re thrilled to reunite our creative and delightful Marigold Hotel family along with some intriguing new ‘guests.'” Fox Searchlight Pictures President of Production Claudia Lewis said in a statement. “With John Madden’s direction and Ol Parker’s original screenplay, we look forward to further exploring our characters’ rich stories and triumphs.