From the director who brought moviegoers the greedy corpse-butchers in ''Shallow Grave,'' the heroin junkies of ''Trainspotting,'' and the lethal zombies of ''28 Days Later'' comes...a heartwarming, life-affirming story of brotherhood? Even Danny Boyle was slightly surprised he could raise the £5 million (more than $9 million) budget. ''You can understand somebody financing a film [of mine] that features drugs, violence, and sex, but we don't have any of those things in this one,'' he says.
Instead, ''Millions'' is the story of 9-year-old Anthony (Lewis Owen McGibbon) and 7-year-old Damian (Alexander Nathan Etel), whose mother has recently died. Their world is undone again when they find a suitcase filled with money and conflict erupts: Anthony has lucrative commercial fantasies, but Damian wants to help the poor.
As with most movies featuring children, casting was critical. Boyle did it the old-fashioned way: He saw nearly every kid in northwest England, a process he calls ''kissing frogs.'' Toughest to cast was the role of Damian. ''It sounds like I'm making this up, [but when Etel] walked in the room I thought, 'That's him,' even before he'd read a word,'' says Boyle. ''I felt exactly the same about him as I felt about Kelly Macdonald in 'Trainspotting,' who'd never acted before. I still saw 1,000 other frogs, but he was the prince.''
WHAT'S AT STAKE Can Boyle do Spielberg? Even he admits, ''It's a leap of faith.''