Hayden Christensen is in formal negotiations to take the lead in HandMade's remake of Mona Lisa. He will take on a younger version of George, the character made famous by Bob Hoskins in the original.

Larry Clark will direct the project, budgeted at about $8m and set to shoot in New York from March 2009. Clark also wrote the script with David Reeves.

Further cast will be announced in the next few weeks.

The original 1986 Mona Lisa, directed by Neil Jordan, won Hoskins as Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a small-time chauffeur who delves into the London underbelly with a high-class call girl.

'The original film still stands up. HandMade has a lot of little gems in its library, but not all of them will stand up for a remake,' said Michael Ryan, HandMade Films International director. 'A lot of people do remember the original movie and it's a great story. The original film was a long time ago, and it did huge business in the UK. A lot of people remember it as an iconic film but never even saw the original.'

Ryan said Christensen, who is currently shooting Bone Deep for Screen Gems, was at the right career point for such a meaty role. 'The character has got a tough edge to him but he's got to have some of that vulnerability,' Ryan said.

Clark had been pursuing a Mona Lisa remake for several years. 'Larry wanted it to be about this underbelly of New York,' Ryan said. 'I think that works, it sets it up differently than the original. Larry is the right sort of director and he's wanted to do it for years. It's a down and dirty story.'

HandMade has done some pre-sales already but none are ready to be announced. Other partners could come on board in the future, but for now the project is wholly produced and owned by HandMade.

HandMade has another hot remake in the works, with Paul WS Anderson's The Long Good Friday set to shoot in March/April 2009 in Miami. Anderson has just delivered the first draft of the script; HandMade and partners Sony and StudioCanal are discussing cast now.

HandMade's slate also includes Toronto hit 50 Dead Men Walking, which recently closed 17 new deals including Metrodome for the UK; animation Planet 51; Jordan Scott's Cracks and Charles Shyer's Eloise In Paris.