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Leo passing on ‘Psycho’

Lions Gate downgrades pic to $10 mil indie status

Accepting the inevitable, Lions Gate Films has taken a knife to “American Psycho” and slashed it back to a modest indie production while bringing back original director Mary Harron.

People close to the project said that actor Leonardo DiCaprio, whose brief flirtation with the high-profile pic transformed it into a $40 million-plus star vehicle, has definitely passed.

And Lions Gate has now returned to Harron (“I Shot Andy Warhol”) to see if she is still interested in helming a version in the $10 million-15 million range.

In its original guise, prior to DiCaprio’s involvement, “Psycho” was premised as an edgy, $10 million feature with Harron directing and Christian Bale (“Velvet Goldmine”) in the lead role — although Lions Gate never signed a deal with Bale.

While nothing is confirmed, it is understood that Lions Gate, which is fully financing the film in exchange for worldwide rights, now wants to re-cast the film from scratch. How this affects Bale’s participation is unclear.

Neither Harron nor Bale could be reached for comment.

Producers on “Psycho” are Edward Pressman, Quadra Entertainment’s Christian Halsey Solomon and Muse Prods.’ Chris Hanley. Lions Gate execs Jeff Sackman, Mike Paseornek and Joe Drake are exec producing, along with Ron Rotholz.

DiCaprio’s interest in the film remained high until several weeks ago, when the actor took part in a reading with Cameron Diaz for director Oliver Stone.

Lions Gate, sources said, wanted to go into production on the pic more quickly than DiCaprio did, and the two parties couldn’t agree on dates.

The hullabaloo at Cannes surrounding DiCaprio’s initial attachment to “Psycho” — including his supposed $20 million fee (a figure that Lions Gate always denied) — couldn’t have helped the situation. That business deal always threatened to overshadow “Psycho” as long as the teen heartthrob was involved.

Presumably, for the pic’s latest incarnation, Lions Gate will be working from the script penned by Harron and collaborator Guinevere Turner.

Several said they expected DiCaprio’s departure to have little impact on the creative direction of the project. “There was always a lot of interest in both versions — big-budget and low-budget,” a person involved with the production said. “They were both the same film, only in one version an actor was going to receive a lot more money due to his foreign value.”

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