Constantin Film has brought on Soenke Wortmann (Germany: A Summer Fairytale, The Miracle of Bern) to direct the big screen adaptation of Donna Woolfolk Cross' 1997 medieval bestseller Pope Joan, after letting go of director Volker Schloendorff last month, according to Variety.

Production on Pope Joan, which recounts the ninth-century legend of a woman, disguised as a man, who ascends the papal throne, will start early next year with Franka Potente to star.

Constantin fired Schloendorff in July, six weeks before filming was due to start, after the director publicly criticized the industry's practice of making features and extended TV versions of the feature simultaneously. Constantin intends to make a longer, TV version of Pope Joan.

The film, which has been in development for seven years, was set to start shooting in Bulgaria in May but was postponed in April after actor John Goodman exited. Constantin has filed a $3 million lawsuit against Goodman, accusing him of reneging on an agreement to appear in the film.