'Terminator' writers in talks to write 'Return'

XXX: The Return of Xander Cage” is getting off the ground with “Terminator Salvation” scribes Michael Ferris and John Brancato in early talks to write a script that will reunite Vin Diesel with director Rob Cohen.

The writing team, whose credits include “Terminator 3″ and the upcoming Jonathan Mostow-directed “Surrogates,” began talks after pitching their take last Friday for a new installment in the action series to Columbia Pictures presidents Matt Tolmach and Doug Belgrad.

Producer Joe Roth got Diesel and Cohen to agree to a reteam earlier this year (Daily Variety, Sept. 15). Col moved quickly to lock up the property, getting first look because of its past relationship with “XXX” generator Revolution Studios. Diesel and Cohen teamed on the 2002 original, which starred Diesel as an extreme sports enthusiast drafted by the government for a dangerous mission.

Diesel and Cohen sat out the first sequel, “XXX: State of the Union,” which starred Ice Cube and was directed by Lee Tamahori.

The ramp-up on the project underscores increased appetite by studios for branded material. Diesel, who bowed out of two “The Fast and the Furious” sequels (save for a cameo in the second installment), reteamed with original co-star Paul Walker for a fourth film. “Fast and Furious” has been slotted for a June 12 release by Universal Pictures.

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