Kristin Scott-Thomas will star in an epic 19th century adventure about the origin of the human species to be directed by Regis Wargnier, the French filmmaker perhaps best known for Indochine and East-West.
The film is one of two big-star vehicles being prepared by French sales house Wild Bunch.
The Euros 25m Man To Man is scripted jointly by celebrated novelist William Boyd and Wargnier. It follows a group of scientists who travel to South Africa in search of "the missing link". They take a troop of pygmies back to Scotland where they a greater degree of humanity than they had expected.
An A-list cast is expected to join ahead of a shoot which will crank up in February 2004. Under its production chief Juliette Renaud, Wild Bunch expects to bring on board a number of co-producers and has already begun discussions concerning UK soft money and co-production. The project was developed by Vertigo Productions, previously responsible of La Verite Si Je Mens.
"France has few directors capable of quality, epics that also work with a large public. Regis is exactly the man for the job," said Renaud.
Renaud has also put together a new film to be directed by actress Asia Argento, based on the JT Leroy novel The Heart Is Beautiful Above All Things.
The road movie about the journey of a woman and her eight-year old son has a budget of Euros2.5m, but is expected to boast a superstar cast in a series of roles representing her chance encounters. Argento (who appeared opposite Vin Diesel in XXX) will star and Tom Sizemore is already confirmed. Developed by Muse Productions and Wild Bunch, the film has attached Italy's Gruppo Minerva International and the UK's Metro-Tartan as co-producers.
"Delivery is scheduled for Cannes next year, where we thoroughly expect it to be next year's Brown Bunny," said Wild Bunch co-chief Vincent Maraval.
Festival films sold by Wild Bunch so far this Cannes include: At Five O Clock In The Afternoon, which was sold to Vertigo for Spain, Artificial Eye for the UK and Seville for Canada.
Purple Butterfly was sold to Mikado for Italy, Hoy Y Manana to ARP for France and Interstellar 5555 went to Bac Films for France and Comstock for Japan. Two Angels was sold to Frenetic films for Austria, Vertigo for Spain and Seville for Canada.