More than forty years after it was last seen on the big screen, Italian producer Leo Pescarolo is developing a big-budget English-language remake of the legendary movie The Last Days of Pompei, making it the ninth time the sword-and-sandal spectacular returns to the silver screen.

"The model for this kind of film has changed since [Ridley Scott's] Gladiator. We want this to be a different kind of film, although Gladiator will be a point of reference," Pescarolo explained.

The last Pompei picture was made in 1958 under the direction of Mario Bonnard and Sergio Leone.

Andrea Frezza and Beatrice Palme are writing the screenplay for the new picture, which is planned as a major European co-production and will feature a cast of American actors. Pescarolo is producing with Luciano Martino from Rome-based Dania Film, with whom he has a joint venture agreement to produce movies together.

Meanwhile, under an agreement, Pescarolo and his partners on the upcoming thriller Semana Santa - Dania Film, Paris-based La Septieme Productions and Monaco's Schlemmer Film - are also set to co-produce The Second Chance, a noir thriller which takes place in Berlin. The film, which was written by Fabrizia Fabbri and Ugo Leonzio, has already received funding from the European Union's Media Program.

Pescarolo and Martino have also bought rights to Lucifer's Shadow, a book written by Semana Santa author David Hewson. Set in Venice in the 18th century and 20th century, the film will also be co-produced with La Septieme and Schlemmer.

Other projects for Pescarolo include Mare d'Inverno, a love story set against the backdrop of the Camorra - the Neapolitan Mafia - which is expected to go into production in 2002 under the direction of Franco Angeli; Jamil, The Last Goddess, a story loosely based on H.Rider Haggard's novel " She "; and Money Flies, adapted from Alessandro Fabbri's novel "Mosche a Hollywood" (The Flies in Hollywood).