Handmade boards $50 million-$60 million project

Brit helmer John Boorman is reviving his long-mooted project about the life of Roman Emperor Hadrian, most famous in Blighty for building the eponymous wall that separated England and Scotland.

U.K.-based Handmade Films has boarded the $50 million-$60 million project and will be fully financing “Hadrian.” Rome-based Olympus Films will co-produce.

Boorman, as well as Handmade chairman Patrick Meehan and Olympus topper Enzo Peri, who acquired the rights to Marguerite Yourcenar’s bestselling novel “Memoirs of Hadrian,” are casting the lead role.

Boorman is co-writing the script along with frequent collaborator Rospo Pallenberg, who previously worked with the helmer on King Arthur epic “Excalibur” and “The Emerald Forest.”

Principal photography is set to start next spring in Morocco, Rome and Spain.

The resurrection of the project coincides with the British Museum’s blockbusting Hadrian exhibition, dubbed “Empire and Conflict,” which looks at the period from 117 to 138 A.D. when Hadrian ruled over a Roman empire that spanned much of Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East.

“The project says so much about the nature of empire, leadership and human aspiration,” Boorman told Daily Variety. “The time of Hadrian marked both the height of the Roman empire and the beginning of its decline. It’s the irony of his rule.”

Handmade Films Intl. will be handling worldwide sales on “Hadrian.”

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