Exploring what's ahead on road to Valhalla

Never one to sit still, Gale Anne Hurd has lined up a full slate of projects at her Valhalla Motion Pictures shingle, ranging from ancient epics and contemporary history to science fiction and comicbook actioners.

Out next after “The Incredible Hulk” is “Punisher: War Zone,” another update of a Marvel movie that didn’t click during its last time out. Hurd describes it as a “muscular, intense” film that sticks more closely to the look, feel and storylines of the comicbook than the 2004 version.

Taking over the lead role is Ray Stevenson, star of HBO’s “Rome,” who Hurd says “is not only a terrific actor but looks exactly like the Frank Castle depicted in (Marvel artist) Tim Bradstreet’s terrific cover art.”

Former stuntwoman and martial artist Lexi Alexander is directing the film. Her helming credits include the Oscar-nominated short “Johnny Flynton” and the feature “Green Street Hooligans.” The film shot in Montreal last fall and is due out Dec. 5 from Lionsgate.

Mikael Salomon, whose credits include the TV miniseries “The Company,” “Band of Brothers” and Sci Fi’s recent “The Andromeda Strain,” signed on in May to direct “Mortal Armour: The Legend of Galahad,” which will see the famed knight pursue love and the Holy Grail.

“Galahad is a love story set against Galahad’s quest for the grail, and his reconciliation with Lancelot, the father who abandoned him in his infancy,” Hurd says.

Written by Joel Gross, the film is to be financed by Seven Arts Pictures with Hurd saying she hopes to shoot later this year in Hungary and the United Kingdom.

Director Brian De Palma has just signed on for “The Boston Stranglers,” which purports to tell the true story of the infamous 1960s murders. Adapted by Alan Rosen from Susan Kelly’s book, “Stranglers” tells how the man long thought to have been responsible for the killings was tried in the press and convicted for an unrelated crime while the evidence showed the murders were the work of multiple killers.

“It touches on the desire for celebrity, using fear as a way to control people and manipulate the media and the police department, and to bring political pressure,” she says.

Valhalla is teaming up with Legendary Pictures on “Thieves of Baghdad,” the real-life story of New York City prosecutor and Marine Col. Matthew Bogdanos’ efforts to track down antiquities stolen from Iraq’s National Museum during the U.S. invasion in 2003. “The interesting thing is that one of the main ways of financing terrorism is the sale of black-market antiquities,” Hurd says.

Matthew Sand is adapting Bogdanos’ nonfiction book.

Hurd also is executive producer on “The Great Deluge,” a miniseries for ABC based on the nonfiction book by Douglas Brinkley. The miniseries, adapted by Tom Rickman, will be the first dramatization of the events surrounding the devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.

“We’ll witness the natural disaster and its aftermath from the perspective of those who lived through it,” Hurd says.

Most recently, Valhalla has teamed up with Platinum Studios to develop and produce “Final Orbit,” a science-fiction film based on a comicbook Platinum will publish early next year.

Russell Gewirtz is attached to adapt the story about a group of tourists who win a trip to the International Space Station, which is damaged in an accident leaving them trapped aboard with no crew members to help them survive or return.

Hurd also is developing a project for Lifetime Television that is yet to be announced.

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