Young Spanish production house Maltes Producciones has taken a three-year option on rights to popular local comic book series Captain Thunder and is developing a $30-40m (Euros 25-30m) English-language feature.

Under the working title The Adventures Of Captain Thunder, Maltes founder Pau Vergara says he aims to follow the production model of Alatriste, the $32m (Euros 24m) Spanish-language hit, starring Viggo Mortensen, that dominated the local box office this year and this week earned 15 Goya Award nominations.

An internationally-recognised Spanish actor is sought for the lead, says Vergara, who aims to piece together the ambitious financing through a deal with a local broadcaster - like the one Alatriste secured with Telecinco - an international co-producer and local subsidies, particularly from the Valencian government to shoot in the nearby City of Light studios.

Barcelona-based studio Filmax formerly held options on the rights to Captain Thunder (Capitan Trueno) and developed the project under various directors. Telecinco was at one point reportedly attached to the Filmax project.

Vergara, who hopes to unveil the package in Cannes next year, notes Thunder's medieval superhero epic is conceived as even "more commercial than Alatriste, in the best sense of the word."

He compares it to the family-friendly, action-oriented Pirates Of The Caribbean.

"Our philosophy is to reach all publics and all markets."

Thunder marks the first feature film project announced out of the three-year-old Valencia-based Maltes, which has cut its teeth to date on documentaries directed by Vergara himself.

With shooting not anticipated before mid to late 2008, Vergara is juggling three other film projects which could shoot first. They will be smaller-budgeted but internationally-targeted, English-language genre films.