‘World’ vision

Italo producer has big plans to follow sci-fi pic

This article was corrected on June 23, 2003.

Veteran Italian producer Aurelio De Laurentiis is ramping up his slate of big-budget international projects, with plans for a sword-and-sandal epic and a serial-killer movie set on the French Riviera to follow his sci-fi blockbuster “World of Tomorrow.”

He also intends to turn “Tomorrow” into a trilogy, and is exploring the idea of making American versions of his lucrative Italian Christmas movie franchise.

De Laurentiis has so far sold “Tomorrow,” which stars Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, to Showbox in Korea and Scanbox in Scandinavia, to go with its previously announced sale to Gaga in Japan.

The pic, directed by firsttimer Kerry Conran and reportedly budgeted at $70 million, has just finished shooting in London; it is embarking on a 52-week post-production schedule for release in fall 2004. De Laurentiis is fully financing from his own pocket, and co-producing with Jon Avnet, who brought him the project.

Avnet (director of Fried Green Tomatoes” and “Up Close and Personal”) is also attached to direct “Empire of the Dragon,” which De Laurentiis hopes to shoot next year.

Described as “a drama about a big hero” set in 2nd century Persia, it’s based on an original treatment by Valerio Manfredi, who also wrote the books from which his uncle Dino is adapting his “Alexander the Great” movie.

Aurelio De Laurentiis has paid a reported $700,000 for the best-selling Italian novel “I Kill” by Georgio Faletti, about an FBI agent and a French cop chasing a serial killer on the Cote d’Azur.

He’s planning to set the project up as an English-lingo movie with a French director.De Laurentiis is a regular coproducer of major French movies, including the upcoming Crimson Rivers 2″ and the Francois Veber pic “Ruby and Quentin,” starring Jean Reno and Gerard Depardieu.

He is also continuing to produce his regular four or five Italian pics a year, including his annual Christmas comedy franchise — this year’s will be “Christmas in Bombay.”

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