Gentlemen, start your elephants!

They say an elephant never forgets. Hollywood of course, is another matter.

Last week’s news that Vin Diesel is contemplating a turn playing the Carthaginian general Hannibal for Sony-based Revolution Studios no doubt jogged more than a few executive memories.

Nowhere more so than at Sony’s Columbia Pictures, which has been developing its own “Hannibal” with producer Doug Wick for the last five years.

Hannibal, who famously traversed the Alps to attack Rome with a pack of pachyderms in the third century B.C., has proved a tough nut to crack.

Wick has of late been meeting with writers, including William Nicholson, to come up with the right take.

Revolution says it will spend the next year wrestling Ross Leckie’s novel “Hannibal” into a script, finding itself in the unusual situation of competing with its own studio backers.

Meanwhile, Fox has spent the last couple of years developing David Klass’ “Hannibal” project, which once had the eye of Denzel Washington.

A similar logjam has hit poor Alexander the Great. While Dino De Laurentiis readies his pic on the conquering Macedonian at Universal Pictures, Oliver Stone is developing an “Alexander” pic at Intermedia Films, Martin Scorsese is developing another with Initial Entertainment Group, and cabler HBO is prepping a fall miniseries .

Whichever studio gets to the “Hannibal” finish line first, legal jousting over the title seems inevitable: Execs half-jokingly point to MGM’s 2001 cannibalism thriller of the same name as a potential trouble spot.

Huffed one Sony wag: “Can you imagine MGM’s reaction? We’d probably have to call it ‘Rome-member: The Tusk That Shagged Me.’ “

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