New ‘Beast’ sets leads

Cassel, Seydoux to star in Euro pic

Vincent Cassel and Lea Seydoux are attached to star in “Beauty and the Beast,” one of the biggest new European movies to be announced at Berlin’s market this year.

Christophe Gans (“Silent Hill,” “Brotherhood of the Wolf”) has written the screenplay and will direct. Budgeted at €33 million ($43.2 million), the French-language “Beauty” is produced by Paris-based Eskwad and Gallic studio Pathe. Eskwad owner Richard Grandpierre produces.

Pathe is taking French and U.K. distribution rights and will sell international. Fox handles Pathe’s theatrical, home entertainment and TV distribution in the U.K.

Gans’ screenplay is based on one of the earliest published variants of the traditional fairy tale, included in Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve’s 1740’s collection, “La Jeune Ameriquaine et les Contes Marins.” Unusually, it features a genuinely savage beast.

Gans told Variety that it is a multi-layered tale, aimed at both children and adults. “It talks, among other things, about the power of dreams and love versus materialism and corruption, which makes it more than ever relevant today.”

“Beauty’s” screenplay was written “humbly, in the shadow of that giant” Hayao Miyazaki, Japan’s celebrated animator, Gans added.

“Beauty” is “above all a family film which tells the universal tale of love between two people who fall for one another in spite of their differences,” said Grandpierre, who also produced 2001’s “Brotherhood of the Wolf.”

Pathe is using Berlin to explore European co-production opportunities, said Muriel Sauzay, Pathe exec VP of international sales. Co-production arrangements could affect where “Beauty” shoots, she added.

Principal photography is set to begin Oct. 8.