Studio prolongs producer's pact through 2012

Universal Pictures has reupped “Wantedproducer Marc Platt for five years, keeping Marc Platt Prods. on the lot through late 2012.

Deal comes as Platt begins work on “Wanted 2″ with director Timur Bekmambetov and writers Michael Brandt and Derek Haas.

The producer also just set up a remake of the 1973 rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and Platt and the studio are taking formative steps toward a screen adaptation of “Wicked,” the stage musical that Universal co-finances and Platt produces with David Stone.

After crossing the $1 billion mark in worldwide stage gross and opening its eighth production in Australia, “Wicked” has become one of the studio’s most profitable investments and could follow a stage-to-screen track reminiscent of “Mamma Mia!” which U bows Friday.

Platt, who transitioned from U production prexy to producer under Stacey Snider and Ron Meyer, has been at the studio for a decade. While he remains close with Snider (who left to run DreamWorks), he said he’s loyal to Meyer — who championed U’s investment in “Wicked” — and has developed strong ties to U Pictures chairman Marc Shmuger, co-chairman David Linde and production president Donna Langley.

U brass has made it a priority to lock up their big suppliers, and Platt’s pact follows longterm deals made by Imagine Entertainment and Working Title.

“Marc has strong commercial tastes, but so eclectic that you can’t put him in a box or category,” Langley said. “Our goal now is absolutely to make the ‘Wicked’ film, but much like Judy Craymer wouldn’t give up screen rights to ‘Mamma Mia!’ until the stage show had reached its pinnacle, Marc and Stephen Schwartz are very mindful of the right timing. But we’re dying to do it.”

Platt, who produced the play with Stone and U, confirmed they are in early movie talks, and that book writer Winnie Holzman will write the script.

Proceeding at quicker pace is “Wanted 2,” though Platt acknowledged that the creative team is still working on the challenge of continuing the story after most of the principal characters — including Angelina Jolie — ended the original in no position for an encore. But the film was designed as a potential franchise, Langley said, and it is still performing strongly after grossing $192.6 million worldwide. The intention is to get James McAvoy back into gunslinging mode.

“The writers are at work already, and those creative discussions are taking place,” said Platt, who is producing once again with Jim Lemley.

That duo also is teamed with Bekmambetov on a Universal adaptation of the Christian Gossett sci-fi graphic novel “The Red Star,” which has a script draft by Matthew Sand.

Platt is working on two other screen musicals. His next film, for the Weinstein Co., is the Rob Marshall-directed “Nine,” which stars Daniel Day-Lewis and shoots in London this fall. For Universal, he’s just agreed to supervise a remake of the studio’s rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which was directed by Norman Jewison with songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. Platt is in discussions with filmmakers.

The producer’s next film for Universal will be “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” an adaptation of the Bryan Lee O’Malley graphic novel series that will be directed by Edgar Wright. Eric Gitter and Platt are producing with Big Talk Prods. partners Nira Park and Wright, who wrote the script with O’Malley. Oni Press published the graphic novel for which “Scott Pilgrim” was based.

Platt has set several projects at the studio. One is “Gershwin,” a biopic of George Gershwin that will be written by Doug Wright (“Quills”). Platt, who is partnered on the project with pianist and Gershwin expert Michael Feinstein, said the film has the support of the estate of George and Ira Gershwin, and will revolve around Gershwin’s life during the formative stages of “Porgy and Bess.”

Other Platt projects include: “Family Bond,” which he’ll produce with Al Gough and Miles Millar, with Jeff Lowell scripting; “Drive,” a Hossein Amini-scripted adaptation of the James Sallis novel that will be directed by Neil Marshall (“The Descent”), which Platt will produce with John Palermo and star Hugh Jackman’s Seed Prods.; and “The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud,” an adaptation of the Ben Sherwood novel that Joe Johnston will direct.

Platt’s next stage venture is a Roundabout Theater production of “Pal Joey,” which is being directed by Joe Mantello in December.

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