Lakeshore Entertainment and Screen Gems have settled on Romania as the location for the shoot of their action-thriller Prime Evil aka Cave.

The picture, which is scheduled to shoot from March, had long been pencilled in to use East European locations. Lakeshore recently settled on Romania and has begun constructing sets at the MediaPro studios outside Bucharest.

The film, which industry sources estimate as having a $20m budget, sees a group of top divers become trapped in an underground cave system and have to battle demon creatures in order to escape. The script is by Michael Steinberg and Tegan West. The producer is Andrew Mason, with Lakeshore's Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi.

Former Matrix second unit director, Bruce Hunt makes his directorial debut, while 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tears Of The Sun star Cole Hauser is cast in the lead role.

Screen Gems is co-producer and holds North American distribution rights. It is expected to release the film as Prime Evil, while Lakeshore may continue to use the working title Cave in international territories.

Lakeshore previously shot the similar budgeted Underworld in Hungary and Prague, but first ventured into Romania last year with low-budget horror-thriller Madhouse, directed by William Butler.

Romania's low cost and quality studios are making it increasingly successful at attracting footloose international productions. In the last year these have included Callas Forever, Cold Mountain, Samantha's Child and UK miniseries Gunpowder Treason And Plot.