Verhoeven takes on Phoenix ‘Assassins’

Pic may carry prodco's largest budget yet

Paul Verhoeven, who just inked with Columbia to helm “The Hollow Man,” will develop and direct “Official Assassins” for Phoenix Pictures and Nick Nolte’s Kingsgate Films.

Pic is a thriller set in post-World War II Berlin involving Russian and American intelligence agencies. It’s based loosely on retired British staff Capt. Peter Mason’s nonfiction account of the same title about his intelligence activities for the British government.

(Coincidentally, the U.S. government is releasing classified files Friday about intelligence operations in Germany during the same postwar era covered by “Assassins.”)

Phoenix picked up the rights to Mason’s book and attached Verhoeven, who has worked with Phoenix chairman Mike Medavoy twice before — on “RoboCop” and “Basic Instinct.”

“It’s a terrific project,” said Medavoy. “If we get it right, then we’ve got a helluva movie.”

Project will carry one of the biggest budgets ever for Phoenix, probably topping the $52 million for “The Thin Red Line,” which will be released by Fox.

Medavoy is planning for the project to be rolling some time next year. Sony, where Phoenix is based, is expected to distrib the pic.

Chris Bertolini is scripting. Alan Marshall will produce along with Joel Lubin and Greg Shapiro of Kingsgate.

Other Verhoeven features have included “Total Recall,” “Starship Troopers” and “Soldier of Orange.”

Phoenix execs Christy Prunier and Nick Osborne will oversee “Assassins” for the company.

Bertolini’s credits include “The General’s Daughter,” “Already Dead,” “Wildfire,” “The Blackstone Chronicles,” “Slicky Boys” and “Empire.”

Marion Rosenberg brokered the deal for Verhoeven. Bertolini was repped by Endeavor. Mason’s deal was handled by Mike Lubin of the William Morris Agency.

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