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Zwart banks on Lion pic

Muniz to star in MGM's 'Cody'

Norwegian helmer Harald Zwart (“One Night at McCool’s”) has come onboard to direct MGM’s “Cody Banks,” a Jeffrey Jurgensen-scripted adventure film, in which Frankie Muniz will star during his “Malcolm in the Middle” hiatus.

Zach Stentz and Ashley Miller have penned the rewrite on the pic, with production expected to start at the end of May.

Muniz will be paid at least $2 million, making him the best-compensated child movie star since the “Home Alone” heyday of Macaulay Culkin. Casting is under way for other roles in the pic.

Film will be produced by Dylan Sellers Prods. and Maverick Films for Splendid Pictures, the upstart company run by Andreas Klein and David Glasser that recently announced its first project, the Jan De Bont-directed “The Courier.”

New film concerns a teen drafted by the U.S. government for covert missions requiring youth-sized participants.

MGM production president Alex Gartner and VP of production Eric Paquette will oversee the project for the studio, which has committed to greenlight the film with a budget of around $20 million. Pic is a linchpin of the Lion’s effort to move into family-oriented fare.

Zwart, repped by ICM and Bondesen-Graup, is a multi-award-winning commercial director in Europe. As for feature projects, he is attached to direct “Supernatural Law” at Universal (U-based Marc Platt is producing) and “Prometheus and Bob” for Nickelodeon Movies and Paramount.

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