Touchstone climbs aboard ‘Rushmore’

NEW YORK — Touchstone Pictures won a hot little bidding war late last week to mount “Rushmore,” a script by the “Bottle Rocket” team of Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson. The bidding started after New Line set the pic free when there was a disagreement over budget.

Touchstone president Donald DeLine has agreed to greenlight the film at a $9 million budget and a fall start. At the same time, Touchstone has signed Wilson to co-star with Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton and Steve Buscemi in the Michael Bay-directed disaster pic “Armageddon” for producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

“Rushmore” is more in the Cameron Crowe coming-of-age vein. It’s about a 15-year-old high school student who spent his formative years doing everything from putting on the school play of “Serpico” to serving as president of just about every club. He was so busy he neglected the hobby of all the others in his age group — girls. In typically grandiose fashion, he decides to remedy that by setting his sights on a seemingly unattainable catch: one of the teachers at the school.

Just as they did on the acclaimed debut pic “Bottle Rocket,” Anderson and Wilson are scripting and Anderson is directing. They’ll also exec produce, while Barry Mendel will produce.

Unlike “Rocket,” Wilson won’t star; he probably wouldn’t have time. He’s a lead voice in Disney’s animated “Kingdom of the Sun”; he and Judd Apatow are writing “Making Amends” at New Line for Apatow to direct Wilson; and he’s starring with Ben Stiller in Live’s “Permanent Midnight.” Anderson and Wilson are repped by UTA, where a team of agents made the deals for the duo.

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