Pair plan to rope in Westerns

Producer Mark Canton (“300″) is teaming with Pterodactyl Prods. on a pair of bigscreen projects that include a pic about iconic cowboy character and B-movie Western staple Bill “Hopalong” Cassidy.

Created in 1904 by writer Clarence E. Mulford, the Cassidy character appeared as a rough-talking galoot in a series of popular stories and novels before segueing to the bigscreen in 1935 as a clean-cut hero. William Boyd played the character in 66 films throughout the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s.

Affectionately known by millions as “Hoppy,” the character also spawned comicbooks, radio serials and the first network TV Western series. Cassidy also became the first image to be featured on a lunchbox.

The 21st century incarnation is being developed in conjunction with rights holder U.S. Television Office, whose prexy, Holger Wrede, will serve as exec producer. Pterodactyl, a development and production company that specializes in matchmaking branded material with established producers.

“These stories tend to come around again,” said Canton, likening the Cassidy revival to that Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer’s plan to bring the Lone Ranger back to the bigscreen. “We’re looking to ring in the modern age with a branded, well-loved hero that we approach in a fresh way,” Canton added.

The two companies are also tackling another story engrained in pop culture, that of the French Connection heroin heist perpetrated by a group of NYPD narcotics detectives. “Honor for Sale,” based on a book by Gerald Kelly, will revolve around the group of detectives who ran the largest narcotics distribution ring in the ’70s. The true story inspired the two “French Connection” films from the ’70s as well as the recent “American Gangster.”

The script was written by the late John Bishop.

Canton will produce the projects alongside Pterodactyl’s Ivan Cohen and Aaron Peters. Pterodactyl’s Barney Cohen will serve as an exec producer.

Canton’s recent credits include “The Spiderwick Chronicles.” He is in pre-production on “War of Gods,” to be directed by Tarsem Singh for Relativity Media; “Piranha 3-D,” a reinvented version of the 1978 hit to be directed by Alexandre Aja for release by Dimension Films; and a modern-day remake of “Fame” for MGM. Canton and Rick Fox are developing a celebrity drama series for AMC.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more