Kidman to star in Hirschbiegel's first English-lingo pic

In a payday said to be worth close to $16 million, Nicole Kidman is set to star in “Invasion,” a sci-fi thriller for Warner Bros.

Pic will mark the first English-language studio feature for Oliver Hirschbiegel, the German helmer of “Downfall.” Joel Silver is producing through Silver Pictures; shooting will begin in September.

The David Kajganich-scripted thriller revolves around an insidious and behavior-changing epidemic that decimates the human race. Kidman, who last haunted the thriller genre with “The Others,” will play a D.C. psychiatrist who figures out that extraterrestrials are behind the invasion. She battles to protect her son, who may hold the key to stopping the takeover.

Pic was originally hatched as a redo of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (Daily Variety, March 26, 2004). Kajganich, a former English professor from Miami U. of Ohio, instead crafted a thriller with a concept different enough that the studio sees it as an original.

Vertigo Entertainment’s Doug Davison and Roy Lee will exec produce along with Susan Levin, Don Zepfel and Steve Richards. David Gambino is associate producer and Dan Lin will oversee for Warners.

Silver chose Hirschbiegel for the directing assignment after watching “Downfall,” a drama about the final days of Hitler, which has grossed over $87 million worldwide.

“Oliver’s movie was dark, eerie, smart and felt a bit claustrophobic, which is everything I want for this film,” said Silver, who just wrapped “V for Vendetta” with Natalie Portman and begins production in two weeks on the Stephen Hopkins-directed “The Reaping,” with Hilary Swank.

Hirschbiegel said the parallels between his past film and a good genre movie made this transition feel right.

“This premise is a metaphor for historical events and even a metaphor for what is happening in this country right now,” Hirschbiegel said. “This was exactly the kind of studio movie I wanted to do. I’m a specialist in human drama and three-dimensional characters, and I want to emphasize that over big special effects and CGI.”

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