Thesps draw ‘Night’ duty

Phoenix, Wahlberg reteam with Gray

Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg are set to star in “We Own the Night,” a James Gray-directed drama that will shoot in New York in March with financing from 2929 Prods.

The actors and director previously made the crime drama “The Yards” together. Nick Wechsler, who produced that film, will produce “We Own the Night” with 2929 Prods. president Marc Butan, Phoenix and Wahlberg. Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban, owners of 2929, will exec produce.

The Gray-scripted drama is set at the height of a bloody 1980s struggle between Gotham cops and a Russian mob that targeted law officers and their families. That led the NYPD to hang “We Own the Night” banners in precinct houses and step up their efforts. Wahlberg and Phoenix play siblings in a cop-dominated family, with Phoenix the black sheep who ends up managing a Russian mob-controlled nightclub.

Job is the first for Phoenix since his Oscar-nominated turn in “Walk the Line.” Wahlberg, who most recently starred in “Four Brothers,” just completed the gridiron tale “Invincible” and the Martin Scorsese-directed “The Departed.”

Butan said “We Own the Night” is the latest in an effort by 2929 to finance prestige films like “Good Night, and Good Luck” and genre films like a remake of “Black Christmas” that’s about to begin shooting. “We Own the Night” has a budget north of $20 million, with several elaborate shoot-’em-up and chase sequences that will be lensed in the city and on at least one of its bridges. Execs Mike Upton and Couper Samuelson of 2929 will shepherd the pic.

Butan said he and Wechsler were able to work out an entire 11-week Gotham shoot because of city and state programs that rebate 15% of monies spent in the city. That program has led to an influx of productions like the Hugh Grant-Drew Barrymore starrer “Music and Lyrics By.”

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