EXCLUSIVE: Company also working on thrillers Maelstrom and The Scent of Adam.

Belgian mini-studio uMedia, which has backed films including The Artist, is developing a film version of Denis Barjam’s Universal War One, one of Europe’s top-selling sci-fi graphic novels.

The live-action feature will have a budget around $40m. The film follows a band of soldiers on a mission in space.

Adrian Politowski, CEO of uMedia, said: “The huge success of Universal War One resides in its strong, fast-paced narrative following a Dirty Dozen-esque band of crack soliders as they embark on a deadly mission into deep space enemy territory. Tent pole titles such as Prometheus and Avatar are proving that sci-fi features are more popular than ever with today’s global audiences.”

Bajram added: For years I refused to accept proposals from those who wanted to make Universal War One. With uMedia, I finally found enthusiasts who understand the key to the success of my comic. UW1 has the potential to be a blockbuster but it retains the true heart of the author. It harbours the ability to be both an intimate psychological narrative and super scale disaster movie simultaneously.”

uMedia is also developing Maelstrom, billed as “a Seven meets Memento thriller” about a writer who tracks a serial killer. La Vie En Rose’s Isabelle Sobelman and Stephane Marchand are writing and the project will go out to “heavyweight” directors.

Also on the company’s slate is The Scent Of Adam,adapted from the French novel by Jean-Christophe Rufin, a thriller about an organisation battling eco terrorists.

Since its creation in 2004, uMedia has co-financed more than 240 projects.