Updated version to be similar in spirit to the soap

NEW YORK — Regency Enterprises is preparing to shoot J.R., striking a seven figure deal to turn the primetime soap opera “Dallas” into a feature film.

Original show creator Dave Jacobs is on board to produce along with former Sony Pictures Entertainment executive veep Michael Costigan. No writer is yet attached.

“I like the idea of doing it for the 21st century, with a new cast,” Jacobs told Daily Variety. “We’ve got a new take on it. It’s a much bigger canvas today and it belongs up on the big screen. Before people would have been interested in who is screwing each other. Now it’s the national crimes that are affecting everyone. The conflict is still about family conflicts, but the stakes are higher now. That’s the thing that excites me about it.”

“So few of the great TV titles actually have a good enough story to work as a stand alone movie,” added Costigan. “I believe ‘Dallas’ is the jewel in the crown.” At Sony, Costigan oversaw production on “Charlie’s Angels,” the successful adaptation of the TV series of the same name. Costigan last year ankled Columbia to form his own production shingle.

“Dallas,” which ran on CBS from 1978 to 1992 and was produced by Lorimar, was ranked either first or second for five straight years in the early 1980s. The famous “Who Shot J.R.?” episode garnered one of the highest ratings for a series in history of TV. Show, which is still running in syndication in many countries, has revenues of more than $1.3 billion.

Similar in spirit

Jacobs, who also created “Knot’s Landing,” added that, despite its new themes and storyline, pic will retain the spirit of the original “Dallas.”

“Dallas” revolved around the machinations of the wealthy. It starred Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing. “Dallas” the film will be populated by the characters who turned the series into a hit: Bobby and Pam, Jock and Miss Ellie, Lucy and Ray, Sue Ellen and Cliff Barnes and, of course, the devilish J.R. Ewing. It will be set at Southfork Ranch, as well.

Regency executive veep of production Peter Cramer, who brought the project to the company, will supervise under president of production Sanford Panitch. Lynn Pleshette and Michael Cendejas of the Lynn Pleshette Agency packaged the deal.

Regency is in production on courtroom thriller “Runaway Jury” and in post-production on the epic comic book “Daredevil” and the comedy “Down With Love.”

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