UPDATE: Steven Soderbergh’s Next Movie is a Knockout

Soderbergh discovered Carano on the women’s mixed martial arts circuit, although she has previously appeared in the doc Ring Girls and on the television shows “Fight Girls” and “American Gladiators” (playing “Crush”). The Muay Thai trained fighter will play a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who is given a second chance to use her skills for constructive purposes, and it’s said to be more of an action movie in the vein of the James Bond franchise or Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita.

Scripted by Len Dobbs, who wrote Kafka and The Limey for Soderbergh, produced by Gregory Jacobs and Ryan Kavanaugh, and financed by Relativity Media, the film should start shooting sometime in February 2010.

You can read the full report about the project at Variety. Further details of interest can be found on The Playlist blog, as they elaborate on the project with inside material that the film might be released as part of a deal between Relativity and Lionsgate. It also gets into some of Soderbergh’s other upcoming projects, including the musical Cleo and his Liberace biopic, both of which could start shooting sometime next year.

UPDATE: We have the official press release from Relativity Media below:

Relativity Media, LLC (“RML”) announced today it will finance and produce Steven Soderbergh’s next project, Knockout. Soderbergh will direct the film, as well as produce alongside his producing partner, Gregory Jacobs, and Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh. Lem Dobbs has been tapped to write the screenplay. Dobbs and Soderbergh previously collaborated on The Limey. Relativity’s Tucker Tooley will serve as executive producer. Production is slated to begin in February 2010. Knockout is an action-packed, female spy story in the vein of The Bourne Identity. All other plot details are being kept under wraps. Martial arts breakout star Gina Carano is in talks to join the cast.

In an arrangement very unique to the industry, Soderbergh will forgo his upfront salary, and retain ownership of the film, along with RML.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with a world-class filmmaker like Steven on this project, which is clearly in his sweet spot,” said Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO of Relativity Media. “Steven’s deal is structured to help control the budget and align the filmmaker and studio to play for the upside. As Steven is sure to make a movie that delivers, we all succeed. More and more filmmakers understand this model, which perfectly pairs our mutual interest. This is the future.”

“Audiences have spoken- they want cool, fresh, action-packed content, and this film hits that target,” says Tucker Tooley, Relativity Media’s President of Production. “This deal creates a true partnership between Relativity and Steven, where, together, we will make a mainstream action film with universal appeal for a reasonable budget, and with the incentives for the studio and filmmaker totally aligned.”

Soderbergh, whose latest film The Informant makes its premiere at the 2009 Venice Film Festival, is repped by Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar.