Hollywood producer David Permut has signed Oscar winner Hilary Swank to star opposite Richard Gere in Julia Pastrana, a romantic epic to which director Taylor Hackford has finally committed as his next film after Proof Of Life.

Both this film and another, Thief Of Light, are being financed by a foreign distributor consortium consisting of Helkon Media in Germany, Toho Towa in Japan, UGC in France and Medusa in Italy which between them will pay $100m for the two projects.

Meanwhile Permut has set up a remake of French film Kings For A Day (Comme Des Rois) at DreamWorks SKG. The original 1997 film, which was co-written and directed by Francois Velle, is a comedy about two simpletons who finally get their 15 minutes of fame through a mistaken identity.

Permut will produce alongside the original's producers Ludi Boeken and his Raphael Films and Nicholas Velle and his Koba Films. Francois Velle and Permut Presentations vice president Steve Longi will co-produce. DreamWorks SKG production chief Walter Parkes acquired the rights.

Linda Lichter at Lichter, Grossman, Nichols and Adler represented David Permut, Ludi Boeken and Nicolas Velle in their deals.