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U planning ‘Bran’ new fantasy pic

Berg set to helm Romano script for studio

A correction was made to this article on July 19, 2005.

Universal Pictures has set Peter Berg to direct “Bran Mak Morn,” an adaptation of the Robert E. Howard fantasy that Working Title Films partners Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan are mounting as an epic.

Berg and his Film 44 banner, which recently made a first-look deal with U, will produce the pic with Universal-based Working Title, whose Fellner and Bevan optioned the rights to the multinovel series from Wandering Star.

John Romano is writing the script. Fellner and Bevan will produce with Paul Berrow of Wandering Star and Film 44’s John Cameron, with Sarah Aubrey exec producing.

Howard is the creator of muscular period fantasy novels and comics that include Conan the Barbarian and King Kull. Though lesser known than those two and title-challenged, “Bran Mak Morn” is comparable in scope. The adventure mixes the historical with the fantastical as the title character, a mythical king of ancient Britain, forges an alliance with supernatural troops to contest the unstoppable forces of the Roman Empire.

Pic is the first fantasy foray for Berg, who last directed “Friday Night Lights.” It is also the most ambitious project to be hatched by Working Title, which continues to evolve from its romantic comedy origins.

“I’ve always been a big fan of action fantasy, loved ‘Conan’ as a kid and had been looking for something with that kind of scope and muscularity,” Berg said. Pic will be overseen by U’s Donna Langley and Dylan Clark, along with Working Title’s Chris Clark and Film 44’s Maria Williams.

Romano most recently scripted an adaptation of the Philip Roth novel “American Pastoral,” which will be directed by Phil Noyce.

Berg will direct the Michael Mann-produced “The Kingdom” at Universal. Berg hopes to make “Bran Mak Morn” his follow-up.

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