Actor George Clooney and director Steven Soderbergh are reteaming for the third time on Solaris, an erotically charged film version of Stanislaw Lem's 1961 science fiction novel which will start production in April 2002 for James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment and 20th Century Fox. Clooney will star in the film which Soderbergh has written and will direct.

Solaris, famously filmed by Russian master Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972, is the story of Kris Kelvin, an astronaut who arrives at the planet Solaris to study the oceanic lifeform that covers its surface, only to discover that the lifeform is capable of recreating the repressed memories of him and his colleagues.

Reports in Los Angeles have suggested that Solaris will be the first project to fall under the new collective of directors led by Soderbergh, Spike Jonze, David Fincher and Alexander Payne who plan to retain rights to their films. If that is the case, the directors' domestic partner, possibly USA Films, will handle domestic rights, with Fox taking international. However, no deals have yet been done.

Soderbergh is also partnered with Clooney in the production company Section Eight which has to date produced or co-produced films such as Anthony & Joe Russo's Welcome To Colinwood, Christopher Nolan's Insomnia and Todd Haynes' currently shooting Far From Heaven.

Both Soderbergh and Clooney were busy this weekend promoting Ocean's Eleven, the big budget heist thriller which opens next month through Warner Bros where Section Eight is based. The two first teamed up for the acclaimed film of Elmore Leonard's Out Of Sight in 1998.

Before Solaris, however, Soderbergh will complete his low-budget ensemble piece Full Frontal which is nearing the end of its 18-day shoot in Los Angeles. Miramax will release the film, which features David Duchovny, Catherine Keener and Julia Roberts among others, in March next year.

Clooney meanwhile is currently directing his first film Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind which stars Sam Rockwell as Gong Show host and CIA assassin Chuck Barris. Miramax Films has worldwide rights to the film which co-stars Roberts and Drew Barrymore. Roberts also plays in Ocean's Eleven.

Clooney will segue into Solaris after he has completed Confessions; he will then shoot Intolerable Cruelty for Joel & Ethan Coen and co-starring Catherine Zeta-Jones after Solaris.

Soderbergh has been working on the screenplay of Solaris for some time and presented his first draft to Cameron, who owned the film rights to the novel, late last year. He says that he has returned to Lem's novel rather than Tarkovsky's film and that the film will be highly erotically charged.