Magimel to star in Houellebecq’s ‘Island’

Altmayer produced movie to shoot next April

PARIS — Bestselling French author Michel Houellebecq’s helming debut, “Possibility of an Island,” will begin lensing in April with Benoit Magimel in the lead, producer Eric Altmayer said Tuesday.

Altmayer and his brother Nicolas will exec produce, with their company Mandarin the majority producer and Belgium’s AT Prods., Spain’s Morena and Germany’s Black Forest co-producing.

The e6 million ($8 million) pic, a futuristic tale about a man and his clone, will shoot for eight weeks in Belgium; Valencia, Spain; and Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, Altmayer said.

Project has experienced some stops and starts since media group Lagardere paid Houellebecq a record $1.3 million advance in a joint book and film deal before the author had written a word.

Book notched a healthy 350,000 sales in France and won the Interallie Prize last year.

Lagardere pulled out of the film, prompting Mandarin to step in 18 months ago. Lagardere will nonetheless be a minority co-producer, Altmayer said.

A pay TV deal for the pic is in place with Canal Plus and a terrestrial deal with Franco-German cultural channel Arte. No French distributor has been set.

Mandarin, behind the French hit laffer franchise “Jet Set,” has several other irons in the fire, including a second film by Santiago Amigorena (“A Few Days in September”) with Juliette Binoche attached to star.

Still at the development stage, “Another Kind of Silence” follows a woman who seeks revenge on the killers of her husband and son. Mandarin is looking for an American actor to play opposite Binoche.

Shooting is slated to begin in two months on Thomas Vincent’s “The New Protocol,” starring Clovis Cornillac and Marie-Josee Croze. Script by Eric Besnard follows a man who investigates the supposedly accidental death of his son.

Besnard also penned helmer Mathieu Kassovitz’s “Babylon AD,” which is in production.

Also in April, Mandarin is slated to put into production Remy Besancon’s second film, family saga “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life.” Tale is told via five key days in a family’s life over the course of two decades.

Mandarin’s next pic onscreen will be James Huth’s teen comedy “Hellphone,” to be released by Mars Distribution in April.