Zellweger shoe-in for ‘Cinderella’

Thesp to see $21 mil for pic, 'Bridget' sequel

Renee Zellweger is set to star with Russell Crowe in the Ron Howard-directed “Cinderella Man,” a Miramax and Universal co-production that begins production in spring. Imagine’s Brian Grazer is producing.

Zellweger’s engaged in a package deal with Universal and Miramax that will pay her $21 million to do both “Cinderella Man” and the sequel to “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” which begins lensing in October.

On both films, U has domestic and Miramax has foreign territories.

In “Cinderella Man,” Crowe will play Jim Braddock, a Depression-era boxer who became a folk hero by winning a brutal 15-round match with heavyweight champion Max Baer in 1935. Zellweger will play his wife.

Akiva Goldsman was brought on to do to a rewrite of a script originated by Cliff Hollingsworth and previously rewritten by Charlie Mitchell. Goldsman came aboard after Howard committed, making it a reunion for “A Beautiful Mind” alums Crowe, Goldsman, Howard and Grazer.

Zellweger has been interested in the role since Crowe first pondered pairing with director Lasse Hallstrom. Since then, the actress turned in a Golden Globe-winning performance for Miramax in “Chicago.”

She recently agreed to play Janis Joplin in a biopic for Paramount and Lakeshore and will next be seen starring with Jude Law and Nicole Kidman in the Anthony Minghella-directed adaptation of “Cold Mountain” for Miramax.

“Cinderella Man” will be overseen by U’s Scott Stuber and Miramax’s Meryl Poster and Bob Osher. CAA and John Carrabino rep Zellweger.

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