Deran Sarafian has been set to direct Interscope Communications’ planned production of “Terminal Velocity,” expected to be a big-budget, star-driven action adventure vehicle for Hollywood Pictures.

Interscope prexy Robert Cort said a start date is contingent upon setting a cast and budget.

“It’s not a movie until we cast, but we’ll go as soon as we’re ready.”

When the movie was originally set up, Kevin Reynolds was interested in directing and Tom Cruise in starring, but other commitments interfered.

Based on David Twohy’s original spec script which sold to Hollywood two years ago for over $ 500,000 (Daily Variety, June 4, 1991), “Terminal Velocity” is about a skydiving instructor who is wrongly accused of murder when he fails to save a beautiful female student whose parachute fails to open. The skydiver finds himself drawn into a web of international intrigue involving a scheme to expose an illegal chemical weapons operation.

Par-based Nicita/Lloyd Prods. has a similar project, “Drop Zone,” in which skydiving is a backdrop. But Cort maintained “skydiving is an element, but they’re quite different movies.”

Cort said while “Terminal Velocity” is an action adventure thriller, it has humor and is similar to “Romancing the Stone.”

Since the movie will require a lot of prep — it involves extensive aerial stunt work — Cort said he does not expect principal photography to begin until later this year.

Next up for Sarafian is the May production of “Roadflower,” starring Christopher Lambert, who also headlined the director’s upcoming release “Gunmen” along with Mario Van Peebles.

Sarafian’s representatives at William Morris, who packaged “Terminal Velocity ,” declined comment.

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