“A League of Their Own” and “Hero” star Geena Davis is in final negotiations to star in Columbia Pictures’ big-budget swashbuckler “Mistress of the Seas,” sources said Friday.

To be directed by Paul Verhoeven, “Mistress” looms as potentially one of Columbia’s top 1994 Christmas releases. The pic, which reportedly sports a preliminary budget in the neighborhood of $ 65 million, is tentatively skedded for a production start between November and January.

There have been reports that “Mistress,” which has not yet been greenlit despite its A-level director and star, was dry-docked until at least June 18 because of financial considerations.

But Columbia sources indicated that the logistics of pulling together a worldwide production on the high seas, which either requires the use of rare 18 th century ships or the construction of replicas, forced its unusually long pre-production schedule.

“We are in the process of making the movie and putting together all of the elements,” Columbia Pictures senior VP of publicity Mark Gill said. “We will make a full announcement at the appropriate time.”

If all goes as planned, “Mistress” will be the next movie that Davis tackles. Columbia is currently scouting for a leading actor to play opposite Davis.

Represented by Rick Nicita at Creative Artists Agency, Davis informally committed to Columbia after discussions between producer Jon Peters and the star earlier this week (Daily Variety, May 10). Col has long held Davis out as its top choice.

Peters, whose Peters Entertainment Company is based on the Sony Studios lot, is slated to produce the movie with Susan Tarr and Hans Proppa, according to published reports.

Adapted from John Carlova’s book “Mistress of the Seas,” the project is about female pirates Anne Bonnie and Mary Reed. Screenwriter is Michael Cristofer.

Central in the development of the project at Col are exec VP of production Amy Pascal and president of worldwide production Michael Nathanson.