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Bekmambetov to direct ‘Moby Dick’

Universal steers reimagining of Melville classic

Universal Pictures has made a splashy preemptive buy of “Moby Dick,” a reimagining of the Herman Melville whale tale that Timur Bekmambetov (“Wanted”) will direct.

Studio paid high six figures to Adam Cooper and Bill Collage to pen the screenplay.

The writers revere Melville’s original text, but their graphic novel-style version will change the structure. Gone is the first-person narration by the young seaman Ishmael, who observes how Ahab’s obsession with killing the great white whale overwhelms his good judgment as captain.

This change will allow them to depict the whale’s decimation of other ships prior to its encounter with Ahab’s Pequod, and Ahab will be depicted more as a charismatic leader than a brooding obsessive.

“Our vision isn’t your grandfather’s ‘Moby Dick,’ ” Cooper said. “This is an opportunity to take a timeless classic and capitalize on the advances in visual effects to tell what at its core is an action-adventure revenge story.”

Scott Stuber is producing with Jim Lemley and Cormac and Marianne Wibberley.

Both Stuber and Bekmambetov have deals at Universal. Bekmambetov will look to apply the visual flourish he displayed on the U summer hit “Wanted.”

“We wanted to take a graphic novel sensibility to a classic narrative,” said Collage. They brought it to the Wibberlys, the “National Treasure” scribes who are branching into producing and will team with Stuber. The project then caught the fancy of Bekmambetov and Lemley, who teamed with the helmer on “Wanted.”

Bekmambetov is developing a sequel to the Angelina Jolie starrer and is also mobilizing and producing a slate of modestly budgeted Russian-language films for Universal’s offshore distribution operations.

Cooper and Collage received credit on the comedy “Accepted” and more recently did rewrite work on the untitled Trump Heist movie, the Tom Bezucha-directed “The People’s House” and the McG-helmed “Nightcrawlers.”

WMA made the deal and repped the scribes, Bekmambetov and the Wibberleys.

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