Jakubowicz to direct 'South'

Warner Independent has hooked a director for “Queen of the South,” its adaptation of a femme Scarface tale set in Spain, and is now looking for its stars.

“Secuestro Express” helmer Jonathan Jakubowicz will direct the pic, expected to go into production “pre-strike” in the fall. Eva Mendes, Penelope Cruz and Jennifer Lopez are eyeing the project, but casting has not yet begun.

Albert Torres did a rewrite of Hanna Weg’s script based on Arturo Perez-Reverte’s bestselling novel, which producer Sergio Aguero read shortly after it was published a few years ago.

Story revolves around a Mexican woman who escapes to Spain after her drug mule boyfriend is killed, then becomes a drug kingpin and seeks revenge for her boyfriend’s murderers.

“It’s unusual in that it reinvents the gangster movie with a female protagonist,” Aguero said.

He said the pic will depict not only “the Sicily of Mexico” but also the Vegas of the Spanish Riviera.

Aguero, who set up the project at Warner Independent two years ago, is producing in conjunction with Prisa’s Plural Entertainment. The former Endeavor agent produced Warner’s “No Reservations,” its upcoming remake of “Mostly Martha” and exec produced “Y tu mama tambien” and “Princesas.”

Torres also penned “Altered Carbon,” a Joel Silver project set up at Warner, and “Henry Poole Is Here,” a Lakeshore pic starring Luke Wilson and Radha Mitchell.

Perez-Reverte, a former Spanish war correspondent, has penned a series of popular novels set in the Mediterranean region. “Queen of the South” was published Stateside by Putnam in 2004.

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