French production company teams with Studio 37

Paris-based Onyx Films has boarded Alexandre Aja’s “Cobra: The Space Pirate,” a live-action film based on the cult Japanese manga, teaming with Studio 37, the film arm of European telco giant Orange.

Budgeted north of $100 million, “Cobra” is produced by Onyx’s Aton Soumache and Dimitri Rassam, co-produced by Alexandra Milchan and Gregory Levasseur and exec produced by Marc Sessego and Andree Cornier.

“Aja acquired the rights and came to us with a very strong treatment and pitch,” said Rassam, adding that the project generated a bidding war between potential producers in and outside the U.S.

Onyx and Studio 37 are exploring various financing models and have received interest from U.S. distributors and potential production partners.

Soumache said Onyx is developing a multiplatform strategy, adding, ” ‘Cobra’ will be part of a new generation of movies mixing innovative technology and strong storytelling.”

The “Cobra” manga was created in 1978 by Buichi Terasawa and sold 35 million copies in Japan alone. It was later turned into a hit animated TV series.

Script by Aja and Levasseur, his longtime partner, follows the adventure of a space pirate.

“We vividly remember the first time we saw ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Indiana Jones,’ and we hope to bring the same emotion to a new generation of fanboys,” said Rassam.

According to Rassam, “Cobra” is a passion project for Aja, who grew up as a fan of the TV series and has been working on the bigscreen adaptation for two years.

Pre-production will kick off in the fall, with production to start in early spring for a summer 2013 delivery.

(John Hopewell contributed to this article.)

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