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‘EYES’ SNAKEBITTEN

Bad luck befalls DePalma's upcoming Par pic

NEW YORK — Living up to its title, Paramount’s “Snake Eyes” seems unable to get over a run of bad luck.

Though the David Koepp-scripted project snagged Brian DePalma to direct and Will Smith and Nicolas Cage to star, little has gone right since. Smith dropped out weeks ago, and rumors are that Nick’s getting cagey as well.

Smith seems to have exited over money, while Cage’s dilemma is time. He is firmly locked into “Superman Reborn” with Tim Burton directing, and Warner Bros. is promising theater owners a July 4, 1998, release date.

“Snake Eyes” isn’t rolling until sometime in August, and Cage jumps into cape and tights in mid-October. He’d have to be Superman to carry two big-budget studio pics in that short timespan.

As for Smith, he wanted $12.5 million; Par didn’t want to go beyond $9 million, and they never had a firm deal. With Smith in negotiations for Tony Scott’s Touchstone pic “Enemy of the State” and Warner Bros.’ “Wild Wild West,” word is he’ll get between $12 million and $15 million. And why not, since he moves from “Independence Day” to this summer’s “Men in Black.”

Par is fervently courting Al Pacino to replace Smith. Insiders say Cage is pay-or-play on “Snake Eyes,” and that Par is trying to work with Warner Bros. on dates that make both “Snake” and “Superman” possible. Stay tuned.

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