Dublin's Ardmore Studios is to host the biggest ever production to shoot in Ireland - Spyglass Entertainment's $80m sci-fi actioner Reign Of Fire - which is set to star Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale.

Rob Bowman, whose credits include The X Files movie, is lined up to direct the film, about mankind's attempt to fight a brood of fire-breathing dragons. The Zanuck Company and Tripod Entertainment are producing with Spyglass and Buena Vista has domestic rights.

Three stages at Ardmore Studios have been booked for the production and set construction begins at the end of November. Principal photography will commence in February and is scheduled to wrap in June.

Spyglass is understood to have chosen Ireland over the UK as a location after its positive experience shooting The Count Of Monte Cristo at Ardmore Studios. The big-budget thriller wrapped mid-November after a few weeks of location work in Malta.

Monte Cristo's Irish art director, Mark Geraghty, said of that production: "The Americans can't believe we're building what we're building for the budget that we have. They can't believe the speed and what they call 'the lack of people'. You get the job done with less people and in less time."

However, Ireland's Section 481 tax break also makes the country a desirable location, along with the current weakness of the Irish pound. Ireland's currency is tied to the Euro and has weakened steadily against the dollar during the past 12 months.