Story will be set in year 1900 in Java in Dutch East Indies.

Dutch maverick Paul Verhoeven is to reunite with producer San Fu Maltha and screenwriter Gerard Soeteman (his collaborators on Black Book) on a new $12.7m (Euros 10m) project, The Hidden Force, based on celebrated Dutch novel by Louis Couperus.

Producer Maltha told ScreenDaily that independent distributors and majors are already circling the project, which will be formally introduced to buyers either at the AFM in November or in Berlin early next year.

The idea is to structure the film as a Dutch-Belgian-French-UK coproduction. The interiors will be shot in Europe and the exteriors in southeast Asia (most likely Indonesia.)

Verhoeven announced the new project, due to shoot next year for likely release in cinemas in 2012, on the Dutch TV show Zomergasten this weekend. The Hidden Force was also adapted into a popular TV series in the mid-1970s.

The story of The Hidden Force takes place in the year 1900 on the island Java in the Dutch East Indies, where a colonial officer is adrift in a culture that is mystical and irrational. Paul Verhoeven, whose family lived in East India, has reportedly long had the ambition to make a film about the former Dutch colony.

San Fu Maltha, who will be producing the film through his company Fu Works, said that The Hidden Force combines excitement, eroticism and elements of the supernatural. “While my mother has Indonesian roots, I was fascinated by the book since my youth and later also by the TV series. From the moment I started to produce films, The Hidden Force was on the top of my list with future filmprojects,” Maltha said.