EXCLUSIVE: French-American director Pitof (Catwoman) and US actor Stephen Lang (Avatar) have signed on to Chinese-German family adventure film The Dragon Angel.

Lang will play the dual role of a French Colonel in 1860’s China and the mysterious chauffeur of an American architect in modern-day Beijing. The US actor is represented by Lisa Lieberman at Innovative Artists.

Pitof is currently in Beijing working on development of the project, which will be co-produced by Igor Darbo’s Hong Kong-based Popcorn & Friends and German producer Felix Blum’s Propeller Film.

Written by Kazakh writer Dana Ziyasheva, the story follows a group of youngsters who attempt to save a Beijing home from demolition and end up on a mystical quest. The project received the award for “best commercial potential” in the projects market of the Shanghai International Film Festival in 2012.

“I’ve been looking for opportunities to work in China and love the fantasy and adventure elements of this project,” said Pitof, who is hoping to bring on board his friend and long-time collaborator Marc Caro (co-director of Delicatessen) to help design the look of the film.

“We also want to work with a Chinese production designer. The idea is to build a bridge between Chinese and European design.”

The film is expected to start shooting at the end of 2013 in Beijing, Sichuan and Germany. Babelsberg Studio has expressed interest in co-financing the film, which Darbo says also has US equity on board.

In addition to Catwoman, Pitof’s directing credits include Vidocq (2001), starring Gerard Depardieu and Guillaume Canet, and fantasy movie Fire & Ice in 2008. He has also worked extensively in visual effects on films such as Asterix & Obelix Vs Caesar and Alien: Resurrection.