UK-based sales company Velvet Octopus is on board for sales of Prodigy, the next film from Chuck Russell, the US director of The Mask and The Scorpion King.

Los Angeles-based Intrepid Pictures is fully financing the $25m film as its first feature not to go through Universal or Rogue. Intrepid will keep North American rights while Velvet Octopus takes international sales.

Intrepid recently produced Balls of Fury and Doomsday.

'We're very excited about it, Chuck Russell is a huge talent,' Velvet Octopus head Simon Crowe told Screen. 'intrepid are very important producers -- while their first six movies have been to Universal and Rogue, this is their first truly independent film in the marketplace. It's a smartly budgeted, smartly scripted piece.'

Prodigy is a sci-fi film set in the near future, at a school where the pupils are superhumans taking a special drug cocktail until there is a conspiracy to kill off some of the students. Dave Kalstein adapted his 2006 novel for the screenplay.

Intrepid Pictures principals Trevor Macy and Marc D. Evans will produce, along with Kincine's Jesus Martinez, as well as Kevin Mann and Matt Perniciaro.

The project is a Spanish-US co-production, with Intrepid recruiting Spain's Kincine as co-producer. The film will shoot in Valencia and the Ciudad de la Luz studios this summer.

'I've always felt that the best science fiction takes what actually exists today, and projects what's around the corner in a compelling way,' Chuck Russell said. 'It's rare to find a story that features a young cast and has the kind of thrills inherent in Prodigy. I'm looking forward to making a movie that will connect to audiences around the world.'

Macy and Evans added: 'We are excited about doing a science fiction movie with Chuck that's both engaging and grounded. You don't have to look too far in the future to relate to its themes and characters.'

'This is a really commercial film targeting that 14-25 audience,' Crowe noted. The film will be casting soon with Anne McCarthy and Jay Scully.