IEG enlists in Great war

Scorsese to direct DiCaprio again

In the latest salvo in a war to produce an epic about legendary Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great, Initial Entertainment Group has paid a mid-seven-figure sum to snap up Peter Buchman and Christopher McQuarrie’s “Alexander” as a vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio to topline and Martin Scorsese to direct.

Project was originally slated for acquisition by the Canton Co., which announced the purchase late last year (Daily Variety, Dec. 12).

McQuarrie was originally attached as the script’s director, but stepped aside when Scorsese expressed interest in the project.

Pic will now be produced by Graham King in association with Buchman, McQuarrie, Kenneth Kokin, DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Scorsese’s Cappa Prods. IEG will fully finance and handle worldwide distribution.

Sked issues

DiCaprio is already committed to next star in “Catch Me If You Can” for DreamWorks, which will begin production next spring. With no start date for “Alexander,” it’s still in question which tale about the conqueror will conquer all.

Also in development is Ted Tally’s adaptation of a trilogy of novels about Alexander the Great that were penned by Italian author and academic Valerio Manfredi. Set up at Universal Pictures, that pic will be produced by Dino De Laurentiis, who optioned the books. Helmer Ridley Scott has expressed interest in the project, but recently signed to direct another epic, “Perfume,” for Constantin Films.

Alfonso Arau is also attached to another Alexander tale, this one in the relatively low-budget realm of $15 million (Daily Variety, Oct. 2). Millie Toy and Norman Toy Jr., who penned the script, will produce with Gene Kirkwood (“Ironweed”).

IEG’s Alexander tale follows the combatant as he continues his murdered father’s campaign to conquer Greece, then pursuing further victories across the world. His obsession with achieving greater glory eventually leads to his downfall.

IEG has a three-year pact with DiCaprio’s Appian, whereby IEG will fully finance and co-produce films while retaining worldwide distribution.

The IEG announcement continues its tradition of presenting high-profile, big-budget movies at the annual London Screenings mart. Last year, IEG’s “Ali” was one of the highest-profile projects, while “Gangs of New York” dominated talk the year before.

McQuarrie and Buchman were repped by Ken Kamins at ICM, DiCaprio and Scorsese by AMG, Kokin by UTA.

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