Constantin signs Potente for 'Pope Joan'


MUNICH -- Constantin Film has signed Matt Damon's "Bourne" film franchise co-star Franka Potente to star in the film version of Donna Cross's best-selling novel about a female pope, "Pope Joan," the company announced Thursday. A Constantin spokeswoman declined to comment on Potente's fee for taking the role of Johanna von Ingelheim, a 9th century woman of English extraction born in the German city of Mainz who disguises herself as a man and rises through the Vatican ranks. But the spokeswoman said that the negotiations with Potente had taken longer than expected, pushing back production of the film, which was originally supposed to come out this year. Shooting is scheduled to begin in May 2007, said the Constantin statement. Ufa Film, the production house, will make both a film for theatrical release and a two-part television version for broadcast later. The Oscar-winning director of "The Tin Drum," Volker Schloendorff, will direct the project. The novel "Pope Joan," first published in 1996 and translated into German as "Die Paepstin" or "The Papess," has sold over four million copies in the territory -- making it one of Germany's biggest-selling books ever.