Universal Pictures has acquired 80% of distribution rights — including in the U.S. — to the large-scale dramatic thriller that Luc Besson will direct with Angelina Jolie in the starring role. Besson currently has The Lady in the Oscar mix, but this film sounds like a closer cousin to his earlier efforts like The Professional, La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element. The script, rooted in true scientific elements, was written by Besson, who will also direct. His EuropaCorp developed the project and will co-finance, and production is set to begin in April 2012 mostly in EuropaCorp’s new production facilities in Paris. Virginie Besson Silla will oversee the project on behalf of EuropaCorp.
The film would be Jolie’s next as an actress, and it would come before she teams with director Ridley Scott on a historical epic about Gertrude Bell that The Constant Gardener scribe Jeffrey Caine is currently rewriting. Jolie is also moving quickly on Maleficent, the Linda Woolverton-scripted revisionist take on the Sleeping Beauty tale for Walt Disney Pictures, and she is getting closer to playing medical examiner Kay Scarpetta in the Fox 2000 drama based on the Patricia Cornwell novel series.
Jolie is getting ready for the release In The Land Of Blood And Honey, her feature directorial and screenwriting debut, which is being released by FilmDistrict in the heat of the Oscar race. She is repped by Media Talent Group chief Geyer Kosinski and Robert Offer; Besson and EuropaCorp by EuropaCorp and Besson are represented by Peter Nichols of Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler & Feldman.