Rai Cinemais lining up a big-budget English-language remake of classic Italian 1941picture, The Iron Crown.

Theoriginal film, directed by Alessandro Blasetti, focuses on a crown, supposedly made from a nail out of the Cross ofChrist and the metal of Roman swords, which becomes a legend and a symbol ofjustice.

The newfantasy-gothic picture, set during the Roman Empire, is co-produced by TildeCorsi's Rome-based R&C Produzioni. Corsi's business partner, Gianni Romoli,is writing the screeplay.

With a budgetexpected to top Euros 20m, the film is being planned as an internationalco-production and will have an international cast. No director has yet beenattached.

Rai CinemaCEO Giancarlo Leone, who will start looking for partners on the film at AFM, sayshe is confident about the film's commercial potential given the success ofrecent films of the same genre.

"The film'shistorical-fantasy genre is in the same vein as The Lord of the Ring and Harry Potter films, and although they areobviously different when you have a strong story it can work wellcommercially," Leone said. "The original Iron Crown was already a big success of itstime and we think this film is right for the international market."

Rai Cinema's upcoming production slate also includes GianniAmelio's The Missing Star, whichrecently finished shooting in China, and Marco Bellocchio's IlRegista di Matrimoni. The films by bothveteran directors star Sergio Castellitto and will be ready next spring.

Rai Cinemais also a partner on Emanuele Crialese (Respiro)'s high-budget epic, The GoldenDoor. Co-producersare France's Memento Films and Italy's Titti Film. Starring CharlotteGainsbourg, the film is shooting in Argentina and Sicily and will also bedelivered in spring.

The Romecompany's slate also includes Francesca Archibugi's Lezioni di Volo, a Euros 5m picture starringGiovanna Mezzogiorno which starts shooting in India in October, andinternational co-production The Memoirs of Hadrian, to be directed by John Boorman.

On theacquisitions front, Rai Cinema distribution label 01 has recently snapped upItalian rights to Babel from Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. The film, which isin production, tells three stories set in Morocco,Tunisia, Mexico and Japan and stars Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Gael GarciaBernal. Summit Entertainment is handling international sales.

Rai'supcoming distribution slate also includes The Sentinel, a thriller from NewRegency which stars Kim Basinger and Michael Douglas.

01Distribution, which was created in 2001, currently ranks as Italy's third mostsuccessful distributor. Leone said the company expects to end the year as thesecond biggest distributor behind UIP, with a revenue of Euros 80m.

Upcoming2005 releases include Roberto Benigni's likely blockbuster The Tiger and TheSnowand Mr. And Mrs. Smith.