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Reeves eyes ‘Matrix’

Thesp will pull $10 mil for WB's Silver pic

Keanu Reeves is near a deal to star in “Matrix,” the big-budget sci-fi film to be directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski. Reeves will be paid nearly $10 million against 10% of the gross. Joel Silver will produce.

While Reeves was openly criticized for skipping “Speed 2,” he may have been wise to miss the boat. That film opened respectably, but was costly, and will be hard pressed to duplicate the success of the original. Warner Bros. has high hopes for “Devil’s Advocate,” the drama Reeves did instead of “Speed 2.” In it, he plays a lawyer who finds himself working for a devilish employer, played by Al Pacino. The film opens Oct. 17.

After that, WB secured him for “Matrix,” a sci-fi film with an ambitious premise reminiscent of “Terminator” or “THX 1138.”

Reeves will play a man who leads an enslaved society in a freedom revolt against computers. The twist is that the hero thinks he’s leading a normal life in 1997, but is haunted by recurring flashes of being hooked up in a lab. He begins to wonder if his seemingly normal life might actually be a mirage and that he and other humans are being kept docile to be exploited by computer captors in the 21st century.

The Wachowski brothers scripted the Silver-produced WB pic “Assassins,” and made their directing debut last year on “Bound.” With the casting of Reeves, WB has the Wachowskis bound for a fall start on the fx-laden film. Reeves is managed by Erwin Stoff of 3 Arts and repped by CAA’s Kevin Huvane.

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