Graham King's Initial Entertainment Group (IEG) is backing the next film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio - whatever it turns out to be.

Martin Scorsese told Screen International this week that his next film will definitely be either Alexander, his Alexander The Great movie, which IEG bought for him and DiCaprio or The Aviator, the long-awaited Howard Hughes biopic in which he will direct DiCaprio - and which IEG has also boarded.

The Aviator, which focuses on Hughes' obsession with flying and planes, is written by John Logan and will be produced by DiCaprio's company Appian Way alongside Michael Mann's Forward Pass. IEG chairman Graham King confirmed that he is in the final stages of negotiating with Forward Pass to finance the picture. Ironically, IEG was the backer of Mann's last film as a director Ali starring Will Smith.

The Aviator is as yet without a domestic distributor. It was previously set up at New Line Cinema with Mann attached to direct but he subsequently shifted into a producer's role.

Scorsese said that he met with DiCaprio last week in New York City and that he plans to further discuss with the actor which of the two projects to pursue this weekend in Cannes.

Alexander, written by Peter Buchman and Christoper McQuarrie, will be produced by King, Buchman, McQuarrie, McQuarrie's production partner Kenneth Kokin, DiCaprio's Appian Way and Scorsese's Cappa Productions. The script tells the story of how, crowned king of Macedonia after the murder of his father, Alexander carries on his father's campaign to conquer Greece.

"I've always been fascinated by Alexander The Great and the ancient world," said Scorsese this week. "As you can see in my documentary about Italian cinema, the first drawings I ever did were on the ancient world."

Both Alexander and The Aviator are part of the three-year production agreement King struck with DiCaprio and Appian Way in August last year. King also brokered a $5m, three-year, first look distribution deal between Japan's Shochiku and Appian Way. The $5m will be used to cover Appian Way's project development overhead costs for the next three years in return for first negotiation rights to distribute Appian Way films in Japan.

Miramax Films meanwhile has a five-year, first-look deal with Scorsese to direct, produce and executive produce projects. At time of going to press, neither of these films are included in the Miramax deal.