This article was corrected on April 18, 1994. Gus Van Sant directed “Drugstore Cowboy”; James Dearden directed “A Kiss Before Dying.” The credits were wrong in Friday’s story about Columbia Pictures’ “To Die For.”

Matt Dillon and Joaquin Phoenix will star opposite Nicole Kidman in director Gus Van Sant’s adaptation of Joyce Maynard’s “To Die For,” Columbia Pictures announced Thursday. Budgeted at $ 14 million, the pic started principal photography on Monday in Toronto.

“To Die For” ends a protracted production slowdown at Columbia, preceding to the starting gate such planned productions as the Winona Ryder/Susan Sarandon remake of “Little Women” and director Jerry Zucker’s “First Knight.”

Columbia was unable to clear the rights to use “To Die For,” so the movie’s release title has yet to be determined. The film is slated to be distributed by Colpix in the first half of 1995.

Adapted by screenwriter Buck Henry, the project is described as an offbeat comedy about an unbalanced journalist who seduces some high school students and convinces them to kill her husband, whom she believes is holding back her television career. Arrested and released on bail, she is hunted by a hitman hired by her in-laws.

The project drew intense jockeying among actresses when Columbia originally acquired the property in August. Those reported to have read for Kidman’s leading role include Jodie Foster, Bridget Fonda, Meg Ryan, Patricia Arquette, Holly Hunter, Mary Louise Parker and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

The project marks the third teaming of director Van Sant and star Dillon, who previously worked together on “Drugstore Cowboy.” Previous screen credit for Phoenix, brother of the late River Phoenix, is “Parenthood.”