According to Variety, Looking to ride a fire-breathing dragon into next summer, 20th Century Fox has set an Aug. 1 start date and a June 16 release date for Eragon, a Fox 2000 Pictures adaptation of the bestselling Christopher Paolini novel.

Visual effects wiz Stefen Fangmeier has been set to make his feature directorial debut, and Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich and Djimon Hounsou will star.

Newcomer Ed Speleers has been chosen to play the title character, a teen farmboy whose discovery of a dinosaur egg in his homeland of Alagaesia leads him on a predestined journey to become a Dragon Rider who will battle an evil king to determine the fate of his world.

Peter Buchman adapted the script, which has been rewritten by Larry Konner and Mark Rosenthal. John Davis and Wyck Godfrey are producing for Davis Entertainment. Pic will be shot in Budapest and the mountains of Slovakia.

Studio is planning its trilogy around a series of novels still being written. Author Paolini is now 21, but he wasn't old enough to drive a car when he began Eragon. Published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2003, Eragon topped young-adult bestseller lists for almost a year, and it has 2 million copies in print in 37 countries. Sequel "Elder" will have a 1 million copy first printing in August.

Working at Industrial Light & Magic for 15 years, Fangmeier was visual effects supervisor on "Lemony Snicket," The Bourne Identity, Saving Private Ryan, and The Perfect Storm. His visual effects supervision on the Fox pic Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World sparked studio brass to his directing potential.

Fangmeier said it wasn't the f/x opportunities that hooked him on Eragon. "I loved the core coming-of-age story about a young man rising to meet his destiny," Fangmeier said. "While I had to convince the executives of my take on the film, I felt like there was destiny in this project for me as well."

ILM's George Lucas said: "Stefen invested a good part of his life into creating state-of-the-art visual effects at ILM. His effects work always supported story and characters, and that will serve him very well on 'Eragon.' "