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Par finds Clancy vidgame easy ‘Cell’

Studio hopes stealth means wealth

Paramount has acquired film rights to Tom Clancy’s videogame “Splinter Cell” and hired Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights”) to direct.

Michael Ovitz, Clancy’s longtime manager, will produce; Berg, Clancy and Yves Guillemot, chief of vidgame publisher Ubisoft, are exec producing.

Berg is penning the script along with “Splinter Cell” vidgame writer J.T. Petty and John J. McLaughlin (“Man of the House”).

Vidgame, now in its second edition, follows the adventures of government spy Sam Fisher as he’s dispatched to infiltrate an international terrorist syndicate and stop a high-tech threat.

Par said the movie’s aimed at combining the vidgame’s blend of stealth action with a “dynamic, original” character. Paramount president Donald De Line and co-prexy Tom Jacobson made the deal; Jacobson will oversee the project along with VP Matt Jackson.

Published by French vidgame giant Ubisoft, “Splinter Cell” has been one of the most successful “stealth” action games; it centers on Fisher as he gathers intelligence and breaks into enemy headquarters while attempting to avoid attracting attention. First two games in the series, “Splinter Cell” and “Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow,” have already sold more than 6 million units worldwide, and a third, “Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory,” is slated for release in March.

“Splinter Cell” is one of three game franchises created by Clancy; the others are “Rainbow Six” and “Ghost Theory.”

Paramount has gone four for four in successfully adapting Clancy’s Jack Ryan character with “The Hunt for Red October,” “Patriot Games,” “Clear and Present Danger” and “The Sum of All Fears.” The studio’s also developing another Clancy novel, “Red Rabbit,” centered on Jack Ryan, and a pair of his novels based on the John Clark character — “Without Remorse” and “Rainbow Six.”

Berg’s also attached to direct Universal’s “The Kingdom,” a drama about U.S. government team working with a Middle Eastern government to investigate a bombing; Michael Mann’s producing (Daily Variety, Oct. 27).

(Ben Fritz contributed to this report.)

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