Van Damme will topline ‘Legionnaire’

CANNES — Action star Jean-Claude Van Damme will join the French Foreign Legion — and the recently revived desert epic genre — as the star of “Legionnaire” for Edward R. Pressman Film Corp. and Van Damme’s production company Long Road Prods.

International rights to the $35 million pic are repped by Quadra Entertainment, headed by Christian Halsey-Solomon and Chris Bialek. Quadra is establishing an ongoing relationship with the Pressman company.

The story poses Van Damme as a playboy in 1920s Paris who flees a mob boss after falling in love with the man’s mistress. Years of fighting in the nameless ranks of the French Foreign Legion prepare him for a return to his lady love and revenge against the mobster.

Pressman, who last teamed with Van Damme on “Streetfighter,” told Daily Variety, “This is a new genre for him, a larger canvas.”

The script is by Sheldon Lettich and Boaz Yakin from an original idea by Van Damme and Lettich. No director has been signed. The pic will lense in Marseilles and in either North Africa or Israel.

Van Damme’s deal was brokered by David Schiff and Jim Berkus at UTA, Jake Bloom and Steve Brookman at Bloom, Hergott, Cook, Diemer & Klein, and Bennett Specter at deBlois, Mejia & Specter.

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