Greek projects create Hollywood toga party

Relativity Media and Warner Bros. are racing to the starting line on rival sword-and-sandal sagas.

The Greek mythology clash got under way when Relativity Media paid mid-six against seven figures for “War of Gods,” a script by Charley and Vlas Parlapanides that will be directed by Tarsem Singh.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros., which initially showed interest in the Singh project, dropped out when the studio signed “The Incredible Hulk” director Louis Leterrier to direct its Lawrence Kasdan-scripted remake of “Clash of the Titans.”

While the subject matter of the pictures is different, each shares a preoccupation with Greek mythology, and that has created a full-fledged chariot race to be first.

Warner essentially greenlit “Clash of the Titans” right after landing Leterrier. WB is co-financing and co-producing the film with Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures.

And Relativity, which is fully financing “War of Gods,” has fast-tracked its pic to start production by year’s end.

Both pictures are expected to use the greenscreen techniques that gave “300” a complex look at a reasonable budget.

“War of Gods” is a mythological tale set in war-torn ancient Greece, as the young warrior prince Theseus leads his men in a battle against evil that will see the gods fighting with soldiers against demons and titans.

In “Clash of the Titans,” Perseus, the son of Zeus, must overcome a series of obstacles to save his beloved Princess Andromeda, including cutting off the serpent-tressed head of Medusa, who can turn a man to stone with a single glance.

“Titans” has been in development at the studio for some time, with Basil Iwanyk producing through his Thunder Road banner.

The original 1981 “Clash of the Titans” starred Harry Hamlin as Perseus and Laurence Olivier as Zeus but is best remembered for Ray Harryhausen’s visual effects that brought to life Medusa, the Kraken and other creatures.

“War of Gods” is a co-production between “300” partners Gianni Nunnari of Hollywood Gang Prods. and Mark Canton of Canton Prods., both of whom will produce with Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh.

“Gianni and I both love epic mythology, and we have worked hard to find another project that will challenge the senses and once again take audiences into a fresh new cinematic world,” Canton said.

Hollywood Gang’s Craig J. Flores will exec produce with Relativity’s Tucker Tooley.

Nunnari said his film has the goods: “Gods, titans, warriors and a fantastic script. An incredibly visionary filmmaker like Tarsem and a partner like Relativity who fought and won already in a battle in getting the package that everybody wanted.”

Dueling pics also pit WB and Legendary, the co-financiers/co-producers of “300,” against Hollywood Gang and Canton. Each has an intertwined and victorious track record when competing on ancient period epics.

WB and Hollywood Gang were both involved in the Oliver Stone-directed “Alexander,” which won a race against a rival Alexander the Great pic mounted by Baz Luhrmann and Dino De Laurentiis. WB, Hollywood Gang and Canton were also the victors when the Zack Snyder-directed “300” made it into production before Universal’s adaptation of the Steven Pressfield bestseller “Gates of Fire” and a Fox remake of its 1962 film “The 300 Spartans.”

Singh is a prolific director of commercials and videos who has directed “The Cell” and “The Fall.”

French helmer Leterrier rose from second unit director of “The Transporter” to direct “Transporter 2″ and “Danny the Dog” before helming “The Incredible Hulk” for Marvel Studios and Universal.

WMA and Oliver Obst repped the “War of Gods” writers; CAA reps Singh; and Endeavor reps Leterrier, who is additionally repped by Management 360.

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