UGC International has lured some of France's top film-making talent away from rival production houses in lining up a slate of big budget projects for Cannes - led by Ruby Et Quentin, a $25m action comedy starring Gerard Depardieu and Jean Reno, and directed by Francis Veber.

The high profile slate is representative of a new strategy at UGC International, according to CEO Patrick Binet: 'This is in sync with (parent company ) UGC Images' will to be involved in French films which have the potential to be not only hits in the French-speaking market but also to be hot sellers in European, American and Asian territories.'

UGC International's 2002 slate also demonstrates UGC Images' new aim of taking on major French production outfits such as Gaumont, Pathe and Luc Besson's Europa Corp. Until now, Veber has been associated with Gaumont, where he was responsible for two of its biggest hits: The Closet and The Dinner Game.

As well as Ruby Et Quentin (working title), which starts shooting in the autumn, the outfit will also start pre-selling The Great Challenge, an $11m action/adventure film featuring the athletic Yamakasi' team, who starred in last year's hit French title of the same name, produced by Luc Besson.

UGC Images and UGC International have also boarded two other big budget-projects, Shadow Chasers (aka Blueberry) and Fantomas, both produced by La Petite Reine's Thomas Langmann, the producer of current French hit Le Boulet.

Shadow Chasers, an action/adventure period title which will carry a $40m price tag, was originally to be backed by StudioCanal. The film, which toplines Vincent Cassel, Michael Madsen and Juliertte Lewis and is to be the second film by Dobermann director Jan Kounen, will start shooting this year too.

Fantomas, a superhero flick which is to star Jean Reno in the title role, will be in production in 2003.

In Cannes, Binet will also be pre-selling Effroyables Jardins, the next film by Jean Becker, director of Les Enfants Du Marais, as well as launching sales on Michel Blanc's star-studded Embrassez Qui Vous Voulez and wrapping up sales on Michel Jugnot Monsieur Batignole.