Screen talk: Studio fights to keep the magic alive

Something will replace the Harry Potter franchise although it will take time and effort to match the success of the boy wizard. But Warner Bros is hungrier than ever to make sure that when Potter fizzles out on the big screen, there is a replacement multi-picture property cloaked in the wings.

The studio has brought in the director David Frankel (right) to cast stardust on 'Septimus Heap: Magyk', the difference from Harry being that Warners is looking to make the adaptation animated. Based on the children's books by Angie Sage, the series revolves around two babies who are switched at birth – one a boy who discovers his birthright as the seventh son of a seventh son and is destined to become a powerful wizard, the other a girl fated to become a princess. The studio has enlisted Rob Lieber as the writer.

Stubble in mind

Remember the 1980s when tight jeans, match-chewing and stubble usually equalled movie action hero? Well, New Line is prepping a comedy homage to such big screen thrillers – think 'Cobra' and 'Missing in Action' – with the British helmer Phil Claydon signed on to direct. Claydon's project, 'Dan Mintner: Badass for Hire', will centre on a 1980s throwback kicking modern day butt, from a spec script penned by the novelist Chad Kultgen. Claydon directed 'Lesbian Vampire Killers' and word has it he was chosen by the producers based on the title of his directorial debut.

Golden age

Columbia is developing a movie based on the action-adventure video game 'Uncharted: Drake's Fortune', setting Kyle Ward the challenge of writing the adaptation. The story follows a treasure hunter named Nate Drake – a descendent of Sir Francis – who believes he has learned from a cursed golden statue the whereabouts of the fabled South American city of gold, El Dorado. A rival hunter joins the search, and creatures – actually mutated descendants of Spaniards and Nazis – begin attacking those hoping to learn the treasure's true secrets.

The teen aliens who fell to Earth

DreamWorks has pre-emptively bought movie rights to 'I Am Number Four,' an unpublished science-fiction book, for Michael 'Transformers' Bay to produce and possibly direct. The title is the first in a planned six-volume series which was being shopped around by the powerful WME agency in LA. The 'Four' storyline involves nine alien teens assimilating to high school on Earth after their planet is destroyed by an enemy species. The fourth of the group discovers that the enemy is now after him on Earth. Bay liked the concept enough to take the manuscript to the DreamWorks principals Stacey Snider and Steven Spielberg, with whom he made 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,' and it was game on.

A power-pitch for a baseball hit

Baseball continues to be a source of Hollywood fascination. Billy Bob Thornton (right) has signed on to produce 'Three Nights in August,' a scripted baseball tale based on Buzz Bissinger's book of the same name. The non-fiction book looks at a 2003 series between the St Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs, taking the readers into the mind and dugout of the Cardinals skipper Tony LaRussa. Thornton, a vocal Cardinals fan, will produce with John Loar. Primarily known as an actor and director, Thornton has produced one pic, the Tex-Mex romance 'All the Pretty Horses', which he also directed. There's a possibility he could take a role in the baseball flick but word is it won't be the LaRussa part.

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