April 25, 2013 3:54pm PT by Tatiana Siegel , Borys Kit
Scarlett Johansson to Star in Luc Besson's Latest Action Movie (Exclusive)
Luc Besson, the French director with a penchant for putting women front and center in his action movies, has found his next leading lady.
Scarlett Johansson is in final negotiations to star in Besson's latest helming effort, the action-thriller Lucy. Universal has taken worldwide distribution rights with the exception of France, Benelux and China.
Besson wrote the script for Lucy, which centers on a woman forced to become a drug mule. But the drug instead goes into her system, transforming her into an ass-kicking machine. She can absorb knowledge instantaneously, is able to move objects with her mind and can't feel pain and other discomforts.
Besson will produce with his EuropaCorp CEO Christophe Lambert.
Thanks to the success of the Taken movies, EuropaCorp has been expanding its English-language operations and recently hired veteran production executive and producer Lisa Ellzey to join its Los Angeles offices. The Paris-based production and distribution entity, which is publicly traded, has been on a tear of late. It announced a 61 percent revenue increase in year-over-year revenue to $48.7 million when it released its quarterly results in February.
Lucy brings Besson back to his 1990s heyday, when he made movies with strong heroines such as La Femme Nikita and Joan of Arc as well as, to a lesser extent, The Professional and The Fifth Element. He most recently wrapped the Mafia drama Malavita, which stars Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones; the movie will be distributed by Relativity later this year.
The deal keeps Johansson in the action game. The actress, known for her turn as butt-kicking operative Black Widow in the Marvel movies The Avengers and Iron Man 2, would shoot Lucy after wrapping Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which she is filming.
Besson is repped by attorney Peter Nichols. Johansson is handled by CAA.
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