WB, helmer find religion

Warner Bros. has attached Ed Zwick to direct period epic “The Lions of Al-Rassan,” an adaptation of a Guy Gavriel Kay novel about the collision of religions in Spain during the Middle Ages that melds fact and fantasy.

WB acquired the book. Bull’s Eye Entertainment’s Cathy Schulman will produce with Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Bedford Falls’ Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz and Rick Solomon. Bull’s Eye partner Bob Yari is also involved in a producing role.

Vera Blasi (“Woman on Top”) will write the script.

Book is a historical fantasy set at the beginning of the Christian re-conquest of Moorish Spain. A triangle forms between two warrior princes and a female doctor in the fictional locale of Al-Rassan. There are allusions to the Crusades-era religious clashes between Jewish, Catholic and Muslim factions.

But the author veils the faiths and introduces magical elements into the historical framework.

After sticking to a historical track on “The Last Samurai,” Zwick found Kay’s literary device irresistible.

“He has done something remarkable in imagining a very compelling world, which has some basis in history, and yet departs in a way that adds a kind of magical realism,” Zwick said. “That is a blend I’ve never seen before and feels like a different way to approach an epic story.”

Zwick said he will likely get back behind the camera on a project this year, while “The Lions of Al-Rassan” is being written.

Blasi, who also scripted “Tortilla Soup,” has written historical biopics of Pontius Pilate and Galileo that haven’t been made. WB exec Courtenay Valenti will steer the project, and Donald Zuckerman and Eduardo Rossof will be co-producers.

Bull’s Eye, one of three Yari-backed film ventures, bows “Thumbsucker” at Sundance, while Yari’s Stratus will debut the Pierce Brosnan-Greg Kinnear starrer “The Matador” there.

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