Russell rewriting script, may helm remake

Chiller Films has hooked its first horror remake property, setting a deal to redo the 1978 Joe Dante-directed “Piranha.”

Chuck Russell is rewriting the script, using elements from spec script “Killer Fish” by Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger plus the original’s script by John Sayles. Pic is based on a story by Richard Robertson.

Pic is a co-production with Intellectual Properties Worldwide, which corrals rights to remake-able properties and approached Chiller with “Piranha” and Russell.

“Piranha” is the first project for Chiller Films, hatched by Mark Canton’s Atmosphere Entertainment and Relativity Media’s Ryan Kavanaugh to produce and finance genre pictures costing no more than $20 million.

Chiller’s first outing is the George Romero-directed “Land of the Dead,” which Universal will release June 24.

“Our experience with George showed us that the genre remake done with high-end talent is a good business,” Canton said. “Chuck and IPW’s Marc Toberoff were among those who approached us with projects, and this fit us perfectly. We want to take people back to a horror classic which was an enormous success in its day but which will benefit from updated technology.”

In the original “Piranha,” a prehistoric strain of the feisty fish is unleashed by a subterranean tremor in Arizona’s Lake Havasu just as the college crowd shows up to frolic in the lake. Canton said Russell, who began his career scripting “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3,” came up with a new take on the material.

Canton hopes Russell will direct the film, but Russell wants to wait until he completes the rewrite. Pic will go into production this fall.

Canton will produce with Toberoff. Pic will be a co-production of Chiller Films, IPW and Wild Bunch. Steve Barnett, J. Todd Harris, Kavanaugh and Chako Van Leeuwen will exec produce.

Russell has directed “The Mask,” “Eraser” and “The Scorpion King.”

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