'Ironbow,' 'Castlevania' both needed rewrites

The writers strike has scratched two more feature films that were headed for the start gate next year.

Rogue Pictures has halted “Castlevania,” the live-action adaptation of the Konami vampire videogame that it is co-producing with Crystal Sky Entertainment. Sylvain White (“Stomp the Yard”) was set to direct, and production was slated to begin in April in South Africa.

Spyglass, meanwhile, has postponed “Ironbow,” a film about 15th-century Swiss crossbow legend William Tell, which was slated to begin production next spring with Kevin Reynolds at the helm.

Both films were unplugged because they needed additional script work that wasn’t possible because of the writers strike. They join the list of such previously scratched films as the Johnny Depp starrer “Shantaram” at Warner Bros., the Tom Hanks starrer “Angels & Demons” at Sony and the Oliver Stone-directed Bruce Willis starrer “Pinkville” at United Artists.

The strike momentarily jeopardized “State of Play” when Brad Pitt asked for rewrites but Universal refused because it had pay-or-play deals with the whole cast. Russell Crowe, who was available, stepped in for Pitt and kept the picture on track to start production this month.

Separately, Depp appears poised to recover from the loss of “Shantaram” with another movie. He met Wednesday with director Michael Mann about playing John Dillinger in “Public Enemies” at Universal.

“Castlevania,” with a script by Paul W.S. Anderson, may not seem as high profile as those other pictures, but it is the most ambitious project attempted by Rogue, the genre arm of Focus Features. Script sets up a generational battle between Vlad the Impaler and members of the family that inadvertently unleashed the first vampire.

With a budget around $40 million and franchise aspirations, Rogue reluctantly shelved the picture, preferring to wait for a strike resolution and get it right. White is still committed, and the genre producer has at least four other production starts for 2008, including remakes of “Last House on the Left” and “Near Dark.”

“Ironbow,” which has a script by “The Count of Monte Cristo” scribe Jay Wolpert, was poised to begin casting after Reynolds agreed to direct. A decision was made last week to wait for another rewrite.

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