August 03, 2005 08:20 AM

Nicole Kidman appears to be following in the fast-running footprints of ex-husband Tom Cruise, starring in the remake of another alien-attack movie, 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Cruise, of course, struck box-office gold this summer with Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, which also was an Eisenhower-age movie about invaders from space.

Closer to earth, Kidman’s two movies this year, The Interpreter with Sean Penn and Bewitched with Will Ferrell, both proved critical and commercial disappointments. A movie she had planned to make with Russell Crowe in her native Australia, Eucalyptus, fell through in February, reputedly over creative differences between Crowe and the director, Jocelyn Moorhouse.

For the new flick, Kidman, 38, has been cast as a psychiatrist who discovers that extraterrestrials are at the origin of a mysterious epidemic altering the behavior of human beings, according to Warner Bros. A 1978 remake, starring Donald Sutherland, was something of a cult hit, and the term “pod people” entered the vocabulary thanks to the two movies.

The new version – to be titled, simply, Invasion – will mark the American debut of German director Oliver Hirschbiegel, of the recent critically acclaimed drama of the last days of Adolf Hitler, Downfall.

Invasion will shoot on location in Baltimore, New York and Washington, D.C., starting this fall, with its release scheduled for the 50th anniversary of the original movie.

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