Accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award during the 18th Festival of the Fantastic Film in Amsterdam, director Paul Verhoeven revealed his next planned project, having had his latest feature, Official Assassins, cancelled post-September 11.
While he claims to have several projects up his sleeve, convincing Hollywood studios has become increasingly difficult "Since the assaults last September, Hollywood seems to be in a state of limbo", he said.
His new pet-project is a Russian thriller, based on the book Fandorin by Boris Akoenin. The story is set in Moscow in 1876 and deals with a curious suicide. "It is as intriguing as Basic Instinct," says Verhoeven, who discovered the book through his daughter who is studying in Russia.
There is already a scenario, written by Gerard Soeteman, his collaborator on Turkish Delight and Soldier Orange. "Right now it is being translated into English. The English edition of the novel will be published next year by Random House. At this moment it is difficult to negotiate. We need a translation of the script." said Verhoeven.
Depending on the cast, the director assumes he needs a budget of around $30m. He hopes to find the financing in Europe and America. If the deal takes too long, he is planning to make a smaller movie - the thriller Paper Boy, a story of a man on death row. Producer-director Jan de Bont (Twister), Verhoeven's former cameraman in Holland, owns the rights.
Previously the Spanish Oscar-winner Pedro Almodovar was connected to the project but it subsequently collapsed. Said Verhoeven "The budget of this film should be around $17m, so it should be easy to set it up."
Last week the UK's Film Four announced a deal with Verhoeven to adapt the novel Batavia's Graveyard, about a famous shipwreck in 17th century, by Mike Dash. Soeteman will write the scenario. "We hope to use the replica of the ship Batavia made by Willem Vos. The vessel is a tourist attraction in Holland."
Verhoeven still hopes to make a film about Jesus. Currently he is halfway through writing a theological book on the subject that will certainly cause stir, like that which Martin Scorsese experienced with The Last Temptation Of Christ. "I will get rid off a lot of nonsense that is written about Jesus by theologians. I am ready for any confrontation on this."