Verhoeven helming 'Azazel' adaptation

“The Winter Queen” team assembled on yacht Suhalya Sultan in Cannes to toast the project, which is due to shoot once helmer Paul Verhoeven wraps “Black Book” later this year.

Aboard the boat with the director were Seven Arts’ chairman Peter Hoffman, producers Thomas Hedman and Alan Marshall, and screenwriter Gerard Soeteman.

The $35 million project, which Verhoeven describes as “James Bond in the 19th century,” is based on Boris Akunin‘s novel “Azazel.” It will shoot in St. Petersburg and the U.K.

Financing is all in place, except for the addition of a Russian partner, which is currently subject to negotiation.

Although Verhoeven is enjoying his break from making big budget movies, he does express some frustration with the difficulties he has experienced putting together the financing on his independent projects.

“A lot of the rules (that dictate access to coin from European co-production partners) conflict. So what works in one country, doesn’t work in another. It is a labyrinth,” he said.

Whatever the difficulties though, one thing is for sure: Verhoeven is determined never to make a sequel.

“By luck and sheer will I have escaped that terrible fate. I was asked to do sequels for ‘RobotCop,’ ‘Total Recall’ and ‘Basic Instinct.’ It would be lucrative but not exciting.

“I love moviemaking so much that it would seem like a waste of time to make a sequel. I really throw myself into my projects and I have to feel complete dedication to them.

“I would have a hard time doing that if I felt I had done it already.”

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