DiCaprio will play Alexander the Great for Luhrmann. He'll drop out of Scorsese's Greek epic to star in the ''Moulin Rouge'''s version
Leonardo DiCaprio
Credit: Leonardo DiCaprio: Steve Granitz/WireImage.com

”Titanic”’s Leonardo DiCaprio is about to jump ship again. Long attached to a biopic about Alexander the Great to be directed by his ”Gangs of New York” director, Martin Scorsese, DiCaprio is about to sign instead with a rival Alexander project, according to published reports, an Alexander epic headed by veteran producer Dino De Laurentiis (”Hannibal”) and directed by ”Moulin Rouge”’s Baz Luhrmann, who directed DiCaprio in ”Romeo + Juliet.”

”If he can say, ‘I’m king of the world,’ then he can certainly command the world,” coproducer Martha De Laurentiis told the Hollywood Reporter. ”He is Alexander. He’s such a great actor and can carry that part.”

Scorsese shouldn’t feel too left out, though. According to the Reporter, he’s taking an if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em approach to the Luhrmann-De Laurentiis project and is likely to come aboard as a producer and may even combine the script he commissioned from Christopher McQuarrie (”The Usual Suspects”) and Peter Buchman with the screenplay the De Laurentiis team commissioned from Ted Tally (who adapted ”Silence of the Lambs” and this fall’s De Laurentiis-produced prequel, ”Red Dragon”). Plus, Scorsese and DiCaprio still plan to team on a sci-fi project based on Dan Simmons’ ”Hyperion” and ”Endymion” novels, as well as a biopic of tycoon Howard Hughes. Of course, even that faces a rival project, one starring Jim Carrey and to be written and directed by Christopher Nolan (”Insomnia,” ”Memento”).

Greece is the word lately, with Wolfgang Petersen announcing this week that he’s putting ”Batman vs. Superman” on the back burner while he shoots a Trojan War epic called ”Troy,” and with two pictures about the Battle of Thermopylae in the works. Plus, there’s still other Alexander projects in development. A proposed HBO miniseries looks like a no-go now that Mel Gibson has pulled out of producing it, but Oliver Stone still hopes to shoot an Alexander biopic, possibly with ”Minority Report”’s Colin Farrell in the lead.

Both Stone and Lurhmann are hoping to start shooting early next year. That should be quite a race. As Variety notes, Luhrmann will be preoccupied with his commitment to direct ”La Boheme” on Broadway until the end of the year. On the other hand, Lurhmann has the backing of Universal and 20th Century Fox (not to mention that of King Mohammed VI of Morocco, who’s already building soundstages and offering 5,000 soldiers as extras), while Stone’s film is backed by production company Intermedia, already cash-strapped from its ”K-19: The Widowmaker” flop and its current megabudget production of ”Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.”