Harrison Ford has confirmed that he will star in his first independently distributed movie - cold war submarine thriller K-19: The Widowmaker to be financed and distributed by Intermedia. The film, which immediately jumps to the top of buyers' hit lists for London Screenings and MIFED, is to be directed by Kathryn Bigelow who recently completed The Weight Of Water for StudioCanal. Production entities are National Geographic Features, Bigelow's First Light Productions and Joni Sighvatsson's Palomar Pictures.

The project, based on a true story, reunites Bigelow with Sighvatsson and Christopher Kyle, who were producer and co-screenwriter on The Weight Of Water respectively.

Ford, who was scheduled to enter the indie world with a part in Steven Soderbergh's Traffic but who pulled out to be replaced by Michael Douglas, will play the captain of a nuclear ballistic submarine which suffered a malfunction in its nuclear reactor on its maiden voyage in the North Atlantic in 1961. He must race against time to prevent a nuclear explosion which threatens the lives of his crew and has the potential to ignite a world war between the super powers.

National Geographic and Bigelow spent nearly four years researching and developing the project, travelling to Russia on several occasions to interview survivors and the captain's widow. Sighvatsson will produce with Chris Whitaker on National Geographic Features and Bigelow. Executive producers are Jake Eberts and Intermedia principals Guy East, Nigel Sinclair and Moritz Bormann. Principal photography is scheduled to commence in Feb 2001 on locations in Russia, Iceland and Canada.

"The tremendous courage and sense of duty exhibited by the Russian submarine force amid the Cold War struggle for nuclear supremacy inspired me to take on the role of Captain Zateyev," said Ford in a statement. Ford is the only box office star in history to have logged ten films to his credit to have grossed over $100m. They are the three Star Wars movies, the three Indiana Jones films, The Fugitive, Clear And Present Danger, Air Force One and What Lies Beneath.

The K-19 deal was negotiated by Adam Krentzman of CAA on behalf of the producers with the assistance of National Geographic Features, attorney Stephen Espinoza of Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman & Machtinger. CAA's Ken Stovitz and Tom Hansen and Don Steele of Hanson, Jacobsen, Teller & Hoberman represented Bigelow. Harrison Ford's deal was brokered by Patricia McQueeny and UTA.

The film is the first major movie deal to come out Intermedia since its parent company IM Internationalmedia AG was listed on the German Neuer Markt in May.