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George Miller to lead ‘Justice League’

WB moves ahead with bigscreen adaptation

Warner Bros. is moving aggressively ahead with the bigscreen adaptation of DC Comics’ “Justice League of America,” with George Miller aboard to direct.

Project, which is in the initial phases of casting, is a pre-strike priority for the studio, which needs a superhero tentpole for 2009.

Still, making all the pieces fit has been complicated by overlapping superhero projects in the pipeline, since “Justice League” features a pantheon of superheroes including Superman and Batman.

Batman and Superman are active properties for the studio, though the next installment in the “Superman” franchise has taken a backseat to “Justice League” in part because Warners is so keen on the “Justice League” script by Kieran and Michele Mulroney.

Beyond the Caped Crusader and Man of Steel, “Justice League” will likely feature Wonder Woman, the Flash and Aquaman. The Green Lantern is also featured in the comicbook.

Several sources close to the project said that Christian Bale, star of the revived “Batman” film franchise, and Brandon Routh, star of Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns,” would probably not appear in the movie.

Helmer Christopher Nolan, current steward of the “Batman” franchise for the studio, would prefer that Warners delay “Justice League” until after he finishes “Batman” projects in development; Bale has also let his uneasiness about “Justice League” be known.

To work around these issues, the studio explored making “Justice League” as an animated film or with motion capture, but all indications are that the pic will be an f/x-driven live-actioner.

Project is so complicated — and casting-dependent — that even those deeply involved are holding their breath until production begins.

“They’re working very hard to get it to happen,” said one party close to the project. “But there are so many characters, it’s complicated.”

It was for this very reason that many believed Warners would move ahead first with a follow-up to Singer’s “Superman Returns.” Singer, however, is busy with Tom Cruise starrer “Valkyrie.”

Miller has a warm relationship with Warners. He last helmed “Happy Feet,” which generated $379 million in worldwide box office for the studio.

This project could give the studio a launching pad for future Wonder Woman and the Flash pics. The studio has been developing bigscreen adaptations of both DC properties.

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