Mehrez launching Byzantium

First project for production shingle is live-action Alladin

NEW YORK -- Longtime Jean Claude Van Damme flick producer Alan Mehrez is launching the indie production, finance and international sales shingle Byzantium Entertainment with an even older superhero: Alladin.

Mehrez and Byzantium co-founder Aileen Rodriguez will produce a live-action version of the classic tale. The special effects-filled film is slated to begin principal photography in Cairo, Egypt, in March 2009.

Steve Tymon ("Ring of Fire") is scripting and William Kanter is executive producing the privately financed project. Mehrez says it will stay close to the story's Middle Eastern roots, in which the 11-year-old title character takes on a well intentioned Sultan's villainous son and saves his family with the help of his genie and its monkey sidekick, Bananas.