Paul Verhoeven is ramping up production on his long-gestating tsarist
Russian crime romp The Winter Queen, now called Azazel.

Shooting is set to begin this summer in St Petersberg and London after
Peter Hoffman's Los Angeles-based Seven Arts Pictures finalised
pay-or-play deals for Verhoeven and Milla Jovovich.

Verhoeven's long-time collaborator Gerard Soeteman, who wrote the
director's recent Dutch-language hit Black Book, adapted the
screenplay from Boris Akunin's Russian bestseller The Winter Queen.
Alan Marshall and Thomas Hedman are producing.

A casting announcement is expected shortly on the male lead, a 19th
century Moscow detective whose investigation into a suicide leads him
to a mysterious woman (Jovovich) who may or may not hold the key to an
international conspiracy.

'I am thrilled to start my next movie with the charming portrayal of a
diabolical and seductive woman who goes up against a handsome, gifted
and very lucky young detective,' Verhoeven said. 'It takes place in
Russia and London in the late 1800's, but its backdrop of world
intrigue - with suicide, murder and terrorism - is very fitting for
today's times.'

Beyond Azazel, Verhoeven is lining up a Dutch-language adaptation of
Jan Siebelink's biography Kneeling On A Bed Of Violets for NL Film &

Seven Arts is also financing and distributing the psychological
thriller Nine Miles Down starring Adrian Paul and Melissa George, set
to begin production in March in Tunisia and Hungary.