Madonna, Besson Team for Arthur

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Madonna has been cast as one of the lead voices in a CG-animated feature film directed by French action auteur Luc Besson (Le Femme Nikita, The Professional, The Fifth Element). Arthur is based on a series of children’s books written by Besson, who also wrote the screenplay and will produce through his Europa Corp.

Arthur tells the story of a ten-year-old boy who plans to save his grandfather’s house by unearthing treasure hidden in the land of tiny people called Minimoys. Word is that Madonna will lend voice to a character named Princess Selenia, who travels with Arthur to a mysterious forbidden city. No other casting has been announced.

The English-language French production reportedly has a price tag of $80 million and is slated for release in 2006. Europa is financing the film with help from government subsidies and international presales. A total of $9 million was raised through deals with French broadcasters TF1 and Canal Plus.

Besson, who has been busy producing a full slate of features including the popular French Taxi series and The Transporter and its upcoming sequel, returns to the director’s chair for the first time since 1999’s The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. For Arthur, he will mix 3D animation by French studio Buf Compagnie and live-action sequences.

Madonna’s husband, director Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch) is also working with Europa on a heist film titled Revolver, starring Jason Statham (The Transporter) and Ray Liotta (Goodfellas).