StudioCanal'ssci-fi thriller Babylon A.D. willbe the first feature film to shoot at a new 4,000-square-meter soundstage atBarrandov Studios in Prague. Mathieu Kassovitz will direct the film, which willstar Vin Diesel and Vincent Cassel.

APeugeot automobile commercial will inaugurate the new soundstage before year'send. Kassovitz's crew are scheduled to begin work on New Year's Day. In spring,the new facilities will host the filming of The Chronicles of Narnia: PrinceCaspian.

Thenew stages complement Barrandov's existing 9,156 square meters of stages on theBarrandov lot proper and an additional 2,576 square meters at the studio'sHostivar location on the other side of town.

BarrandovStudio chairman Tomas Chrenek told journalists yesterday (Dec 11) that the costof constructing the facilities was ultimately $9.5m, roughly twice the expectedprice tag when construction began in spring. Chrenek declined to comment on thereasons for the higher bill, but maintained that the company still planned torefinance the construction loan within seven years as originally planned.

The Barrandov Studio boardof directors was scheduled to meet later in the day. While no Barrandovofficial could comment on the agenda, one likely point of discussion wasfinding a replacement for general director Veslava Piegzova, who stepped downin late November. Piegzova replaced Radomir Docekal in May 2005.