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H’wood’s sprawl to arms

Studios marching in lockstep as competing warrior pics muster

HOLLYWOOD — Is Tinseltown creatively bereft — or eternally optimistic?

With four biopics in development, the British femme warrior Boudica has become the latest member of an arcane but increasingly crowded club: historical military figures rediscovered — en masse — by Hollywood producers.

Whether the dueling Boudicas connect with ticket buyers — or make it to the bigscreen at all — remains to be seen. But the studios continue to mine history in hopes of finding a blast from the past.

In addition to the peasant girl-turned-military leader, there’s Che Guevara, the Communist revolutionary leader who inspired the simultaneous development of three biopics. Napoleon Bonaparte has inspired two pictures (and with them, a potential legal battle).

At one point, Alexander the Great was the subject of no less than five competing projects.

Mel Gibson‘s Icon, which is developing the Boudica pic “Warrior” with Gavin and Greg O’Connor, also developed (then abandoned) a plan to produce a 10-part, $120 million HBO miniseries on Alexander.

Then there was Laura Bickford, who recently triumphed with a greenlight for the Benicio Del Toro starrer “Che.” She’s back in the ring with a Boudica pic of her own, the spec “My Country,” written by Martha Little.

It’s one thing when multiple companies get the same bright idea to make a movie about, say, meteors hurtling toward Earth or erupting volcanoes or even animated insects. But when four major producers simultaneously exhume the woman who led Celtic tribes of Britain to triumph over the Romans 1,934 years ago — well, it’s not like they were waiting for the option to lapse.

With the studios anxious to squeeze every bit of revenue out of their pricey epics, one can only wonder: What are the Boudica merchandising tie-ins, and what’s the sequel potential for a pic whose heroine dies at the end of the story?

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