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Norton to star in ‘Hulk’

Marvel movie to be released in 2008

Edward Norton has been set by Marvel Studios to play Bruce Banner in “The Incredible Hulk.”

The Louis Leterrier-directed drama will be distributed by Universal Pictures, with an opening set for June 13, 2008.

It is a decided return to the mainstream for Norton, who recently has starred in such indies as “Down in the Valley,” “The Painted Veil,” and “The Illusionist.” Pic will shoot this summer in Toronto.

Norton takes over a role played in the Ang Lee-directed “Hulk” by Eric Bana. Though that film opened strongly, it didn’t fare as well as other Marvel efforts, including “Spider-Man,” “X-Men,” “Fantastic Four” and, most recently, “Ghost Rider.”

Marvel Studios, which has a $525 million credit facility obtained through Merrill Lynch, made “The Incredible Hulk” its second film under that arrangement, and seeks to make a sequel that is less self-serious and more in line with the comic series and TV show. Leterrier directed the action-filled “Transporter 2,” and “Unleashed.”

The new pic begins with Banner on the run, trying to avoid capture long enough to cure the condition that turns him into a misunderstood green menace.

Edward Norton is a rare talent and one of the most versatile actors in the business,” Marvel Studios production president Kevin Feige said in a statement. “His ability to transform into a particular role makes him the ideal choice to take on the character of Bruce Banner and the Hulk. Edward is perfectly suited to bring one of the most popular and important Marvel icons to the bigscreen in a new and exciting way.”

The script for “The Incredible Hulk” was written by Zak Penn, who had a hand in crafting two “X-Men” films, “Fantastic Four” and “Elektra” for Marvel.

“The Incredible Hulk” is being produced by Avi Arad, Gale Anne Hurd and Marvel’s Feige. Jim Van Wyck, David Maisel, Ari Arad and Stan Lee are exec producing.

Norton, who will next be seen starring with Colin Farrell in the Gavin O’Connor-directed New Line drama “Pride and Glory,” is repped by Endeavor.

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