GIANT INSECTS INVADE HOLLYWOOD!

Harking back to the days of “Them!” and other sci-fi fare in which the villains were mutant versions of what can normally be dispatched with a can of Raid, there is suddenly a competition between movies about giant bugs. Paul Verhoeven now looks like he’ll follow “Showgirls” by directing “Starship Troopers.” Word is that TriStar will team up with Disney on the pricey pic about a team assembled to travel to the home planet of giant bugs that are invading Earth.

Producer Ed Pressman, meanwhile, confirms that he’s mounting “Invasion Earth,” the story of a government experiment with insects that goes awry. It will be directed by Anthony Hickox, who co-wrote the script with Pete Atkins. Pressman, for one, isn’t bugged by the competition. “We expect to reinvent the big bug genre for the ’90s,” he boasted.

TriStar has long been trying to work the bugs out of “Starship” by trying to bring the budget to a reasonable level, something Pressman can identify with. “The biggest challenge is to try and create a spectacle and yet do it within financial parameters that are realistic.”

Pressman said he’s followed the career of Hickox for years. “I know his mother, Anne Coates, who cut ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ ‘Dr. Zhivago’ and ‘In the Line of Fire,’ and who has won a bunch of Oscars. I’ve watched Anthony’s career closely. He has a great command of the technical area, which is one reason I think we can accomplish this film with a budget in the low to mid-20s.”

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