Luhrmann, DiCaprio Enter “Alexander” Race

Bet Alexander the Great never thought he’d be this popular after all this time.

In what looks to be another Hollywood race, Aussie director Baz Luhrmann is developing his own Alexander the Great project and trying to enlist his Romeo + Juliet star Leonardo DiCaprio to come on board as the legendary Macedonian leader.

The project, produced by Dino De Laurentiis and backed by Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox, will rival Oliver Stone‘s project for Intermedia Films, which has Colin Farrell attached to play Alexander and is set to go into production early next year.

De Laurentiis is already moving forward, even enlisting the assistance of King Mohammed VI of Morocco. Variety reports the producer and director will meet with the king Sept. 6 to ask permission to use Mohammed’s personal army of 5,000 men and 1,000 horses to stage war scenes.

Variety reports each Alexander film could cost up to $140 million to make and speculates that whichever one starts filming first will be the only one that actually gets made.

Stone‘s project could fall apart as Intermedia Films is still trying to recoup losses over its disappointing K-19: The Widowmaker and is mounting the $170 million Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

And even though Luhrmann told Variety he is poised start production in early 2003, the director is currently preoccupied on bringing La Boheme to Broadway late December and will need at least a few months beyond that to get the Alexander project rolling. DiCaprio may also decide to go for the Martin Scorsese project about the reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes called The Aviator. DiCaprio and Scorsese were also once attached to an Alexander project, which fell through.

HBO is out of the race altogether as it had to scrap its 10-part, $120 million miniseries about the charismatic Alexander when Mel Gibson‘s Icon Productions pulled out of the project.

May the best man win!