Pact adds momentum to project

NEW YORK — Bill Wisher, the screenwriter best known for his long-time collaboration with James Cameron (they shared script credit on “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”), has inked to write “Superman” for Warner Bros.

In what could be a sign that the Man of Steel may be restored as a WB franchise figure, Wisher has already met and pitched his take to Nicolas Cage, who clearly still wants to wear the S on his chest.

Wisher will begin writing the film as soon as he completes a top-secret assignment for director Robert Zemeckis and ImageMovers at DreamWorks.

His hiring lends the “Superman” project some much-needed momentum. After Cage signed on with producer Jon Peters and director Tim Burton, the film seemed on course for a speedy production start. Chris Rock was being wooed to play Jimmy Olson and big stars were named for other parts.

The studio had little trouble lining up its merchandising and tie-in campaigns, but the screenplay never really came together. Because the studio was nervous about greenlighting a huge budget without resolving script problems, the start date was called off and the project shelved.

Wisher most recently adapted the Michael Crichton bestseller “Airframe” for Disney as well as the prequel for “The Exorcist,” which Morgan Creek is prepping for production. Known for handling complex, big-budget fare, Wisher will work from the same source material used by the other scribes on the project.

The film is based on the DC Comics installment in which the Man of Steel is killed by the evil Brainiac and then comes back to life in a new incarnation.

While Cage is still squarely the lead candidate to play Superman, it’s believed that director Burton, who’d worked with Peters on “Batman,” has permanently departed the project. However, parties involved aren’t concerned with a helmer just yet; instead, they will let Wisher do his job first. They’ll go out to directors when he has turned in the new draft.

Wisher is repped by agent Geoffrey Brandt.

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