Gans, whose credits include the French “Beauty and the Beast,” “Silent Hill” and “Brotherhood of the Wolf,” will direct from a script by William Schneider. Samuel Hadida is producing the film through his Davis Films alongside Spain’s production and distribution company TriPictures. Christian Mercuri’s Capstone Group is starting sales at the American Film Market.
Producers see “Corto Maltese” as a potential mass-appeal franchise starter similar to the “Indiana Jones,” “Sherlock Holmes” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchises. The movie is based on the stories of an adventurous sailor, created by comic book author and novelist Hugo Pratt and set at the dawn of the 20th Century. Principal photography is slated to begin in January in Europe and China.
In the film, Corto Maltese has been hired by a Chinese revolutionary group to hijack the armored train of the Russian Emperor Czar Nicolas II that is transporting his gold from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok with multiple schemes to capture this priceless treasure.
“ ‘Corto Maltese’ has been a dream project for me since I was a boy reading comics,” said Gans. “Now that I have the opportunity to bring this incredible story to the big screen, I can think of no better actor to play the adventurous Corto after meeting with Tom Hughes, whom I followed in the TV series ‘Victoria,’ and who has emerged as one of Britain’s truly top actors.”
Gans also said he’s been talks with “Crazy Rich Asians” star Michelle Yeoh for a role. He’s also cast James Thierrée as Corto’s sidekick, Rasputin, and has also cast Mark Dacascos.
Hadida said of Thierrée, “Not only is he the grandson of Charlie Chaplin, he is also an incredible actor and performer who won a French César for best actor in ‘Chocolat.’ He is currently playing opposite Vincent Cassel in L’Empereur de Paris.’
“We are assembling a brilliant and talented cast to bring Corto Maltese to life,” Hadida said. “I have known Milla Jovovich for a long time, having produced the ‘Resident Evil’ films that made her a star. After meeting her with Gans, Milla immediately found her vision to play this role and we are convinced that there could be no better choice.”
Gans has collaborated with Metropolitan Films and Davis Films on “Crying Freeman,” “Brotherhood of the Wolf” and “Silent Hill.”