Alexander The Great: While director Oliver Stone is trying to get his version of Alexander into theaters for Thanksgiving 2004, Baz Luhrmann and producer Dino De Laurentiis now say their Alexander the Great will not be released until at least late 2005.

Variety reports that De Laurentiis said Luhrmann plans to start filming his Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman starrer in Morocco early next year. He international sales will be shopped at the Cannes Festival. Universal and DreamWorks co-finance the film.

The ambitious project -- which carries a budget of around $150 million -- requires the casting of some 70 speaking rolesas well as hordes of extras (supplied from the Moroccan army by King Mohammed VI).

"This huge preparation can't be done in less than eight or nine months," said De Laurentiis, casting some skepticism on whether the Stone project, to be distributed by Warner Brothers and financed by Intermedia, could keep to its 2004 date.

Stone's project will star Colin Farrell in the title role, and Anthony Hopkins recently joined as well. Intermedia chief Moritz Borman reiterated confidence in his production schedule, adding that the pic had 30 staffers already on the payroll. "Set designs are done, the costumes are done. They're working on a full pre-production schedule," he said.

Luhrmann now plans to begin his principal photography in April 2004 and shoot for six months. Borman said Stone plans to shoot for 12 weeks.

"What most attracts me is the complex character of Alexander himself," said DiCaprio. "His legend is one of the most compelling stories in human history." Kidman, who will play Olympia, said, "She is unlike any other woman I've played before, and it's a role I'm really looking forward to."

Stay tuned...

Brian B.