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‘Phantom’ on fast track

Director Simon Wincer, the Aussie who most recently helmed “Operation Dumbo Drop” for Walt Disney, is in final negotiations to direct “The Phantom” for Paramount Pictures. Billy Zane is attached to star, and Robert Evans will produce.

“The Phantom” is based on a comic book character from the mid-1930s.

Douglas Reuther Prods, originally toyed with the idea of producing the project, but sources say that when the duo lost interest “The Phantom” was all but dead. But when the studio decided to move “The Saint” to a winter start, it found itself in need of a picture for next year’s Memorial Day weekend slot.

“The Phantom” was then resurrected and is now slated for an October start date. No other casting has been completed, but sources say the film is on the fast track.

Meanwhile, “The Saint,” with Phillip Noyce at the helm, is now going before the cameras in early 1996, sources said.

Paramount had danced with a number of A-list actors before making its decision, including Mel Gibson and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Paramount plans to go back to Ralph Fiennes for “The Saint.” The studio previously had offered Fiennes the project before Noyce signed on. “The Saint” is being produced by Evans.

“The Saint,” based on Leslie Charteris’ novels, follows Simon Templar, a debonair pillar of society who is secretly a philanthropic thief.

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