Fedor Bondarchuk, director of Russian blockbuster Inhabited Island, is making his English language debut on Seven Arts Pictures’ Winter Queen and will follow that with a $30m epic about the battle of Stalingrad which will likely be shot in both Russian and English versions.

Bondarchuk is replacing Paul Verhoeven on Winter Queen which is based on the novel by Boris Akunin and is being put together as a Russia/Hungary/UK co-production and will shoot in Budapest and St Petersburg early next year. Milla Jovovich is still attached to star.

“We are finally going to start principal phbotography in March or April so that it’ll be finished in time for him (Bondarchuk) to go on to do Stalingrad,” Seven Arts boss Peter Hoffman commented this weekend.

Meanwhile Dmitry Rudovskiy, Bondarchuk’s partner in Moscow-based production/distribution outfit Art Pictures Studio, has confirmed that the Stalingrad film will be on a similar scale to The Inhabited Island, which is one of the biggest budget films made in Russia.

Stalingrad was one of the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare with an estimated casualty rate of two million.

The aim is to have the Stalingrad film, which is based on an original screenplay by Ilya Tilkin, ready for 2012, the 70th anniversary of the battle, which ran from 1942 to 1943.

The Inhabited Island is available here to buyers in separate versions. The film, which was released in Russia in two parts, is being offered to buyers in a winnowed down 2/12 hour combined version.