'Conquistador' prepares for battle

Hollywood Gang Prods. is poised to bring another historical figure to the bigscreen with “Conquistador,” an “intimate epic” revolving around 16th century Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes. Pic’s budget, said to be north of $40 million, will make it the biggest-budget Spanish-language film ever made.

L.A.-based Relativity Media is packaging the financing. Paris-based Wild Bunch will handle foreign sales.

Brazilian helmer Andrucha Waddington, whose last two pics, “Me You Them” and “House of Sand,” were picked up by Sony Pictures Classics, is attached to direct.

Screenplay by Nicholas Kazan (“Reversal of Fortune,” “Bicentennial Man”) was translated by historian-scribe Carlos Bardem, brother of Oscar-nommed Spanish thesp Javier Bardem. No cast has been set.Epic is slated to start principal photography in Brazil and elsewhere in South America in September.

“Conquistador” tracks Cortes as he sails westward from Cuba in 1519 in his quest to expand the Spanish empire and the subsequent destruction of the Aztec empire. “This is the story of landing on the moon and finding out there is a civilization already settled there, when the unknown meets the unknown,” said Waddington.

Hollywood Gang producer Gianni Nunnari’s credits include Oliver Stone’s “Alexander,” David Fincher’s “Seven” and Robert Rodriguez’s “From Dusk Till Dawn.”

Produced by Nunnari, “Conquistador” will be exec produced by Elliott Lewitt, Kazan, Ryan Kavanaugh and Lynwood Spinks.

Relativity Media, a financing, consulting and production company, has arranged the financing for and exec produced George Romero’s “Land of the Dead” and “Full of It,” both with Mark Canton’s Atmosphere Entertainment. It also has partnered with IDG Films and Platinum Studios for the feature film adaptation of comicbook “Witchblade.”

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