Director in talks to replace Darabont on drama

Director F. Gary Gray is leaving one film and signing on for another.

On Thursday, he pulled out of plans to direct Eric Bana in “Armored” for Millennium Films. While it appeared that Gray would be replaced, Millennium Films topper Avi Lerner told Daily Variety that the film is now dead.

Meanwhile, Gray is negotiating to replace Frank Darabont as director of “Law Abiding Citizen,” a drama that begins production in Philadelphia this December with Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx starring.

Lerner told Daily Variety that “Armored” was never real. But despite his assertion, multiple sources said he went as far as to agree to a $7.5 million payday for Bana and to finalize a $500,000 rights deal with Canal Plus.

The French company distributed “Le Convoyeur,” the 2004 heist film that was the basis for the David Ayer-Andrew Kevin Walker-scripted remake. Preliminary plans were in place to scout Pittsburgh and Detroit, starting next week.

Though Lerner previously tried to mobilize “Armored” at Summit and Relativity, Millennium never had a complete rights package. The Ayer-Walker script was developed at Paramount and put in turnaround. While Lerner took an option on the Par script, he didn’t purchase the script before the option expired.

Gray walks into “Law Abiding Citizen” after Darabont dropped out. Foxx will play a lawyer who finds himself in the center of a vigilante plot hatched by a traumatized victim of the legal system. Butler plays the vigilante. Kurt Wimmer wrote the script with Darabont.

The film’s financing comes via the Film Dept., whose Mark Gill is producing with Butler, Alan Siegel and Lucas Foster. Film Department’s Neil Sacker and Robert Katz are exec producers.

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