'Daredevil' helmer takes reins on Cage pic

A correction was made to this article on Oct. 10, 2003.

Mark Steven Johnson will direct “Ghost Rider” for Columbia Pictures, with Nicolas Cage set to star.

Johnson, who most recently directed “Daredevil,” will rewrite the script by Shane Salerno. Cage and Johnson both signed on to the project on the basis of Salerno’s script.

Movie is an adaptation of the Marvel Comics property that centers on a motorcyclist who inadvertently makes a pact with dark forces and must fight against them in order to protect the woman he loves.

Pic has been greenlit for a start in late ’03 or early ’04.

Producing are Johnson’s partner in Horseshoe Bay Prods., Gary Foster, with Marvel principal Avi Arad and Crystal Sky’s Steven Paul.

Supervised by production co-president Matt Tolmach, Col views the action- and FX-heavy “Ghost Rider” as the first in a potential franchise.

Like many comicbooks, “Ghost Rider” has had a long road to production. Arad has been a major proponent of the project, which is based on one of his favorite comics.

Arad and Crystal Sky teamed with Dimension Films in 2000 to make the pic, in what would have been the priciest movie ever for Miramax Films’ genre division.

Stephen Norrington was attached to direct, but left to direct “Tick Tock” — a pic that was never made in the aftermath of 9/11. Cage departed temporarily in hopes of starring in another superhero pic, Warner Bros.’ “Constantine.”

In the meantime, Col picked up the project in turnaround from Dimension and Cage returned to “Ghost Rider” shortly after helmer Tarsem fell out of “Constantine.”

In addition to Salerno, David Goyer wrote a “Ghost Rider” draft.

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