Arnold Takes ‘Eraser’

After months of being courted by every studio in town, Arnold Schwarzenegger has finally said “I do.”

The actor cemented a deal with Warner Bros, to star in the action thriller “Eraser” with Chuck Russell (“The Mask”) at the helm for producer Arnold Kopelson.

The film, which will be the star’s next, is a coup for Warner Bros, and marks its first teaming with Schwarzenegger.

“The studio and I had been trying for a long time to find a project that we could do together,” said Schwarzenegger. “We had come very close to it in the past with ‘Sergeant Rock’ and ‘Captain Blood.’ We’ve been working on this project for several months with rewrites.

“Now we’ve resolved all the problems. It’s one of those things that all fell into place. We’re really celebrating.”

“Eraser,” written by Tony Puryear, follows a jaded U.S. marshal (Schwarzenegger) working in the witness protection program who battles another agent in a game of government cover-up and intrigue.

Kopelson (“The Fugitive”) just produced the upcoming “Outbreak” for Warner Bros. “Eraser” is expected to go in late spring or early summer.

The actor said he and Russell had been wanting to work together for months. “We read over 100 scripts this summer and Chuck and I came to the conclusion that this was the best script because it had the best idea.”

For Russell, “Eraser” moves him – if only temporarily – off of New Regency’s “Captain Blood,” which the company has been trying to cast.

Russell is in the process of signing a two-picture deal with Warner Bros. Schwarzenegger and Russell had considered working on the pirate picture last year, and Schwarzenegger said it is something he’s still considering.

Several other projects also are being developed for Schwarzenegger, including “Sergeant Rock” and “Planet of the Apes,” the remake of the 1968 film at 20th Century Fox.

As for his pet project, “Crusade,” the actor said a decision on where that project will be set up will be made next week.

Three studios are vying for the big-budget period actioner, which Paul Verhoeven will direct. “Verhoeven will meet with the studios next week,” said Schwarzenegger. “Everyone is very enthusiastic about it. It means a lot to Paul and myself.”

Schwarzenegger is repped by ICM’s Lou Pitt Russell is repped by UTA’s Robert Stein. Caroline Pham, who developed “Eraser” with Puryear, is co-producing.

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