Gibson sci-fi novel full of hot topics

William Gibson’s prescient sci-fi bestseller from the ’80s, “Neuromancer,” will get the bigscreen treatment from vet producer-distributor Peter Hoffman, whose own Cannes exploits go back some 25 years.

Hoffman said the project is not just a good sci-fi adventure but a story full of hot topics –issues like artificial intelligence, bio-engineering and alternate theories of immortality will be dealt with dramatically. There’ll be a sort of love interest as well.

The $70 million pic is essentially being fast-tracked to replace the Paul Verhoeven project “The Winter Queen.” Latter is being pushed back until at least next spring because leading lady Milla Jovovich is pregnant.

Joseph Kahn, a Korean-American commercials director who made “Torque” for Warren Bros., has inked to direct.

“Every indie wants to have one or two high-budgeted pics in its portfolio. For us, both the Verhoeven and ‘Neuromancer’ fit that description,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman’s company Seven Arts, which will as of next week have a public listing in London, had no formal announcement for the project. The producer-distributor’s modus operandi these days is much more low-key and press-neutral, if not press-shy. (The swashbuckling days of Carolco and co. in the ’80s are long gone.)

Still, Hoffman is doing business from his umpteenth yacht (he’s had them since 1989) and says he continues to have regular relationships in foreign with all the key buyers.

Among Seven Arts pics being sold here in Cannes are “Deal,” which is a $35 million gambling-focused piece toplining Burt Reynolds. Actress Shannon Elizabeth will star in the film and will be on hand Monday night for a celebrity poker tournament that Seven Arts is sponsoring at Palm Beach.

Other near-finished films include “American Summer,” an American-pie inspired romp, and a horror pic “Autopsy,” both produced by Warren Zide. Budgets on these are in the $15 million range and both were shot in New Orleans.

A correction was made to this article on May 21, 2007.

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