Sony picks up rights to comicbook adaptation

Writer-director Frank Miller has tapped Gabriel Macht to star in “Will Eisner’s The Spirit,” the Miller-scripted adaptation of the classic Eisner comicbook series.

Shooting on the pic co-financed by Lionsgate and Odd Lot Entertainment begins in October for release in 2009. Odd Lot partners Gigi Pritzker and Deborah Del Prete produce.

The Bronx-born Macht was most recently seen in “The Good Shepherd” and just wrapped the Dominic Sena-directed “Whiteout,” in which he stars opposite Kate Beckinsale.

Separately, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group has picked up several overseas territories for “Will Eisner’s The Spirit” from Odd Lot Intl.

Sony will distribute the comicbook adaptation, Miller’s first solo directing effort, in France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia and wide swaths of Latin America. Lionsgate is distributing the pic Stateside and in the U.K. (Daily Variety, May 16).

Macht will play the title character, a man who has faked his own death so he can battle crime from the shadows of Central City. He runs up against the Octopus, a villain who’s bent on wiping out the entire city and kills anyone unlucky enough to see his face.

Miller also wrote the graphic novel that was turned into “300” and is working with “Sin City” co-director Robert Rodriguez on a sequel to that film before he turns his hand to Eisner’s tale.

For “The Spirit,” he insisted that actors who wanted the starring role audition, and Macht won the job in the room.

“We think Gabriel has a devilishly charming quality, and the dry wit that embodies the Spirit, and we wanted to do this with someone who can embody this character for the next few years, because we anticipate we’ll be making more than one Spirit movie,” said Lionsgate prexy of film production Mike Paseornek.

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