‘Marlowe’ inks helmer Joffe

Bard one of a trio in prod'n with Maybury, Temple pix

Helmer Roland Joffe is set to shoot “Marlowe,” a fictionalized biopic of Christopher Marlowe, the British dramatist believed by some to have been Shakespeare’s ghostwriter.

Principal photography on the 22.5 million euro ($26.5 million) English-language period piece is skedded to kick off Sept. 15 in Belgrade, Serbia.

It is one of several Marlowe projects in the works, including Julien Temple’s “The Golden Man” and John Maybury’s “Marlowe.”

Pic marks Joffe’s return behind the camera following the costumer “Vatel,” which opened the 2000 Cannes festival.

Italian producer Massimo Pacilio said “Marlowe” is an Italian-French co-production between his Movieweb film fund and Backup Films, the Paris-based film financing outfit headed by David Atlan-Jackson. London-based producer Jamie Brown, who is collaborating with Pacilio on other projects as well, is also part of the production team.

Casting is still under way on the pic, which supposes that Marlowe did not die at age 28 but instead vanished from London — where he was thought to have been stabbed to death in a bar brawl — and fled to Italy. There he found intrigue, romance and also started writing Shakespeare’s plays.

After Belgrade, “Marlowe” will move to Rome, Venice, and London locations.

Veteran Italian production designer Giantito Burchiellaro (“The Soul Keeper”) will handle the sets. Screenplay is by first-time scribe Francois Taborelli.

“Marlowe represents everything about youth that irritates adults. He is a symbol of iconoclasm, and also a genius,” Joffe said.

Joffe’s previously announced India-set project, the $40 million epic “The Invaders,” will follow “Marlowe.”

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