Director preps Italian thriller adaptation

ROME — Helmer Jon Avnet is readying “I Kill,” a serial-killer thriller based on an Italian bestseller of the same name.

Avnet has almost finished penning the final draft of the script, reworking a first draft by Italo helmer-scribe Davide Ferrario.

Pic will be produced by Aurelio De Laurentiis and son Luigi De Laurentiis Jr. under their Filmauro banner.

Monte Carlo-set tale, in which the killer always calls a radio deejay to request a song in theme with his next slaying, is due to start shooting next year on the Cote d’Azur.

“The book is Italy’s biggest bestseller of the past few years,” De Laurentiis Jr. told Daily Variety.Avnet, who recently completed Al Pacino starrer “88 Minutes,” has a longstanding rapport with the Rome-based side of the De Laurentiis family. He was a producer on 2004′s “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,” financed by Aurelio De Laurentiis, nephew of L.A.-based producer Dino De Laurentiis.

De Laurentiis Jr. said Filmauro also is kickstarting “Empire of the Dragon,” its long-gestating adaptation of the historical novel by Italo author Valerio Massimo Manfredi. He also wrote the book that was the basis for Dino De Laurentiis’ “The Last Legion,” helmed by Doug Lefler.

After being mothballed, the big-budget “Empire” epic, about soldiers in ancient Rome who become militiamen for an exiled Chinese prince, is in active development, with plans to shoot in China by 2008, De Laurentiis Jr. said.

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