Sam Neill will star in Universal Pictures/Amblin Entertainment’s “Jurassic Park 3,” reprising his role as Dr. Alan Grant from the 1993 original, and Alessandro Nivola has entered into negotiations to appear in the project.

The casting of Neill represents the first major acting commitment to “JP3,” which is scheduled to begin shooting in late July or early August for release in July 2001. An 18-week shoot has been scheduled with most production set for California along with three weeks in Hawaii.

Neill, who is repped by ICM, did not appear in 1997’s “Jurassic Park: The Lost World.” Other major credits include “The Piano,” “The Hunt for Red October,” “Dead Calm” and “The Horse Whisperer.”

Nivola debuted in 1997 with roles in “Inventing the Abbots” and “Face/Off.” He most recently appeared in Kenneth Branaugh’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost.”

Universal and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin committed to a third version of its prized film franchise last year by hiring Joe Johnston (“Jumanji,” “October Sky”) to direct. Kathleen Kennedy and Larry Franco have been tapped to produce.

Details of the script have not yet emerged beyond the expected focus on massive dinosaurs. The original grossed $913 million globally and the sequel took in over $600 million worldwide.

Universal recently announced plans to release DVD versions of both films on Oct. 10, including trailers for “JP3” and on-location chats with the cast, crew and special effects team.