An impressive cast isgathering for the $40m-plus teen superspy adventure Stormbreaker, whichbegins shooting in the Isle of Man next week.
Alex Pettyfer (pictured), who was TomBrown in UK TV series Tom Brown's Schooldays, will play 14-year-old specialagent Alex Rider. Mickey Rourke will star as Alex's nemesis, megalomaniacbusinessman Darrius Sayle. Bill Nighy is taking on the role as Alex's spymasterat MI6, Mr Blunt, with Sophie Okonedo as his colleague Mrs Jones.
Other prominent cast membersinclude Missi Pyle, Alicia Silverstone, Sarah Bolger, Ashley Walters and DamianLewis.
There will also be a specialappearance from Ewan McGregor as Alex's superspy uncle, Ian Rider. Kung fulegend Donnie Yen will co-ordinate martial arts sequences.
"We've tried to go forwonderful actors who are also very high profile from the commercial point ofview," producer Marc Samuelson told Screen Daily.
The news that a large partof the film will shoot on locations around London and at Pinewood Studios willbe an additional relief to the UK's production sector, which has been undersevere pressure in recent months. Last week it was announced that Universal'sadaptation of PD James' novel Children Of Men looks set to be directed by AlfonsoCuaron at Pinewood from early autumn.
With much of the financingcoming from UK sources - including $4.2m (£2.3m) of National Lottery funding throughthe UK Film Council's Premiere Fund - Stormbreaker has not suffered fromthe weak dollar to the same extent as Hollywood projects looking to set up shopin Britain.
"It [Stormbreaker]shows the scale that can be achieved by the independent sector, with no studioinvolved," Samuelson commented.
Geoffrey Sax (White Noise,BBC TV's Tipping The Velvet) will direct Stormbreaker from ascreenplay by Anthony Horowitz, whose Alex Rider adventures have thus far soldeight million copies and been translated into 28 languages.
If the first movie works,Alex Rider looks set to turn into a Bond-style franchise.
"We are trying veryhard to make a magnificent film with number one, added Samuelson. "On theassumption that works creatively and commercially, then of course we would liketo make a series of sequels across all of the books."
Stormbreaker is produced by Marc Samuelson and Peter Samuelson.Also producing are Steve Christian of Isle of Man Film (who financed thedevelopment of the project) and Andreas Grosch of VIP Medienfonds 4, inassociation with Rising Star.
The Weinstein Company hastaken North American rights. Bob Weinstein's Dimension Films had one of its biggestsuccesses with the Spy Kids trilogy, which grossed more than $500mworldwide.
Entertainment FilmDistributors pre-bought UK rights; Capitol Films are selling internationalrights.