‘Run’ rising at Phoenix

Ballard to helm 'Colter's'

Phoenix Pictures has set Carroll Ballard to direct the period action drama “Colter’s Run” after acquiring the Mark St. Germain script in turnaround from MGM.

The drama concerns John Colter, a guide with Lewis and Clark’s Corps. Of Discovery expedition in 1803. Colter left that expedition to make his fortune trapping beavers, but he and other trappers were ambushed by the Blackfeet Indian tribe. Phoenix topper Mike Medavoy said he is near financing deals that will put the $35 million picture in production this summer, and they have begun discussions for a star to play Colter, the chief and his wife.

Ballard will be working closely from a script penned in 2000, meaning it took more time to get the pic going than the four years it took Lewis and Clark to complete their historic journey.

Medavoy, who optioned the drama years ago, before letting it go to MGM when Westerns were on the outs, said his interest was rekindled by Ballard, with whom Medavoy previously worked on “The Black Stallion.”

“It’s not often that a script like this comes along, and a lot of people had been interested in the story,” said Medavoy. “The studio wasn’t doing anything with a great script and was kind enough to let it go.”

Medavoy is looking for a flavor akin to that of “Dances With Wolves,” made at Orion when he ran that studio.

Phoenix has three pics set for release this year and another going into production. Fox is releasing the Marcus Nispel-directed Viking tale “Pathfinder,” Paramount and Warner Bros. are releasing the David Fincher-directed “Zodiac,” and Sony has slotted for fall the Steve Zaillian-directed “All the King’s Men.” Phoenix is about to start production on the Chris Noonan-directed “Miss Potter,” with Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor.

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