Ziskin, Medavoy to produce Lucas pic

Josh Lucas will play the male lead in Columbia Pictures big-budget actioner “Stealth,” being directed by Rob Cohen.

Pic is being produced by Laura Ziskin, and Mike Medavoy and Medavoy’s Phoenix Pictures production shingle .

Actioner, which will be one of Sony’s summer tentpoles for 2005, is set in the naval Air Force in the near future and tells the story of an artificial intelligence pilot who is brought aboard to learn combat skills from human pilots. When the A.I. pilot begins to have ideas of his own, complications ensue. Lucas will play Ben Gannon, the senior pilot in the human wing of the naval airforce.

“We’ve watched Josh do romantic comedies and indie movies and felt he was just on the cusp of being a real leading man. He is a wonderful actor and has a real weight about him. We were looking for the right guy to play Ben and we found him,” said Ziskin.

Cohen penned a rewrite of the original script by WD Richter.

Shooting is slated to start Jan. 19 on location in Australia, Thailand, New Zealand and China.

Pic is tentatively skedded for a Memorial Day 2005 release date and is being overseen at the studio by Sony Pictures Entertainment vice chairman Amy Pascal and Columbia Pictures president of production Matt Tolmach.

Lucas, repped by ICM and 3 Arts Entertainment, most recently completed work on Lasse Hallstrom’s upcoming “An Unfinished Life” opposite Jennifer Lopez and Robert Redford for Miramax. And he’s completed shooting the United Artists dramatic thriller “Undertow,” for helmer David Gordon Green. He will next begin production on Jordan Roberts’, “Around the Bend,” opposite Michael Caine and Christopher Walken

His other credits include Universal’s “The Hulk,” New Line’s “Secondhand Lions” and Lions Gate’s “Wonderland.”

Cohen said pic will feature over 800 visual effects with jets designed with the cooperation of the head designers at Northrop Aviation.

Digital Domain, which is currently working on Fox’s tentpole “The Day After Tomorrow,” will tackle the majority of the f/x shots. Joel Hynek and John Frazier will serve as the pic’s f/x supervisors.

“I’ve been working with Laura and Mike on this for 11 and a half months to the exclusion of everything else, I believe it’s a unique, original and powerful story that takes film to a stylistic place where videogames and feature films can meet,” Cohen said. “It’s a real adrenaline ride.”

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