Wortmann Directing Potente in Pope Joan

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Constantin Film has hired 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 sacking helmer Volker Schloendorff last month, says Variety.

Filming for 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.

The trade says 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.