Rodriguez to unleash Barbarella


Robert Rodriguez has signed on to direct "Barbarella," a new feature adaptation of the classic sci-fi comic book series that Universal Pictures is fast-tracking for a 2008 worldwide release.

The character was immortalized in a 1968 movie starring Jane Fonda. Dino De Laurentiis, who produced the original film, will produce the update with Martha De Laurentiis.

"Barbarella" centers on a female mercenary who roams the universe of a distant future, undertaking missions that require fearlessness, ingenuity and sensuality. The character debuted in 1962 in a French graphic magazine written and illustrated by Jean-Claude Forest and was known for her many adventures, often involving sex. There also was a musical produced in 2004.

"Dino De Laurentiis came to me and said, ' "Barbarella" is a world where you are completely free to unleash all your fantasies, creativity and imagination — where the possibilities are limitless,' " Rodriguez said. "I love this iconic character and all that she represents, and I'm truly excited by the challenge of inviting a new audience into her universe."

"Barbarella is the ultimate science-fiction adventure heroine: smart, strong and sexy, " Dino De Laurentiis said. "In our vision, the future is female, and I can't wait to introduce Barbarella to a new generation of moviegoers."

Rodriguez is working with writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who are developing a completely original adventure for Barbarella. Purvis and Wade co-wrote "Casino Royale" and recently finished work on the next installment in the James Bond franchise, which has a working title of "Bond 22."

"When we decided to take Barbarella on again, " Martha De Laurentiis said, "we wanted the film to play as a big, legitimately exciting adventure in space, but we also know that the character of Barbarella is grounded in a very specific reality. Balancing those aspects requires a very deft hand. With Robert directing and Neal and Robert writing, we feel like we have the dream team in place."

Rodriguez's coming on board puts to rest questions about what the in-demand director would do next. Despite "Grindhouse" not doing well at the box office — Rodriguez directed the "Planet Terror" segment — the helmer was being courted heavily by studios and was looking at megaphoning "The Jetsons" at Warner Bros. and "Land of the Lost" at Universal.

Rodriguez is repped by Endeavor.