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U high on sci-fi pic

Kinberg, 'Firefly' alums set up thriller pitch

Universal has bought a sci-fi pitch from Simon Kinberg (“Mr. and Mrs. Smith”) and Brett Matthews.

Details on the thriller are being kept under wraps for now, but pic will be written by Matthews.

Producing are Kinberg, who is working on 20th Century Fox’s upcoming “X-Men 3,” along with David Engel and Lawrence Mattis via their Circle of Confusion banner. Other firm partners Jason Lust and David Alpert will exec produce.

Kinberg says he came up with the story idea and began working on it with Matthews. “I developed it for a while, but Brett really made it his own and took it over,” he said.

He wouldn’t elaborate on the story except to say, “It’s more thriller than big, broad action; more gritty than other sci-fi movies we’ve seen in the recent past. Almost what ‘Bourne Identity’ did for action movies, this will attempt to do for sci-fi movies.”

“We wanted the science-fiction aspect of our story to be eerily plausible,” Matthews said. “For the concept to be fantastic, but only until you really think about it.”

Matthews’ previous scribe credits include an episode of Joss Whedon’s “Firefly,” which was recently adapted by U into “Serenity,” as well as Universal’s animated “The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury.” He also penned “Bionicle: The Feature” based on the Lego toy line.

Circle of Confusion is in development on several other titles for U, including “Magic Kingdom for Sale,” being penned by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. Also under way is “Outcast,” with Charlie Mitchell writing, as well as “Jinx,” with Brian Michael Bendis manning the pen and Charlize Theron producing.

Overseeing the untitled Kinberg/Matthews project at U is veep Jeff Kirschenbaum.

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