Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp is popping its second big movie announcement in as many days. The studio has just set up power couple Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz to star in Escobar, which will be the latest pic about the rise of Colombian drug cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar. The biopic will be based on Virginia Vallejo’s 2008 Spanish-language memoir Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar.
Vallejo is the Colombian journalist whose career came to a halt in the mid-1990s after it was revealed she had a romantic relationship with Escobar in the mid-’80s. She published her memoir in 2007 and she had to seek asylum in the U.S. three years later, according to her website bio.
Fellow Spaniard Fernando León de Aranoa (helmer of Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight pic A Perfect Day starring Benicio Del Toro and Olga Kurylenko) is aboard to adapt and direct the pic, which is ramping up now for a production start sometime this year. Bardem and León de Aranoa also collaborated on 2002’s Spanish-language Mondays In The Sun.
The news comes after yesterday’s news that Besson is writing and directing an adaptation of the French sci-fi graphic novel series Valerian under his EuropaCorp. The company will finance, distribute and co-produce Escobar with Pinguin Films and Dean Nichols Productions. Dean Nichols is producing with Bardem and EuropaCorp CEO Christophe Lambert. Jere Hausfater, Dany Boon and Todd Nichols are executive producing.
International sales are launching at Cannes.