Actor to star, but not direct Mexican locale film

Mel Gibson has set up his next starring vehicle, which reassembles the key members of his “Apocalypto” team.

Gibson will topline the action drama “How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” based on a screenplay he penned. News surfaced a few days after Gibson committed to directing Leonardo DiCaprio in a pic about Viking culture (Daily Variety, Dec. 14).

“Summer Vacation” centers on a career criminal who gets caught by Mexican authorities and is sent to a drug- and crime-filled prison, where he learns how to survive with the help of a 9-year-old boy.

Gibson has written only two other screenplays in his career: “Apocalypto” and “The Passion of the Christ,” both of which he directed. Though “Summer Vacation” would seem a natural fit for Gibson to helm, he is passing the torch to his protege Adrian Grunberg, who was first a.d. on “Apocalypto.” Stacy Perskie, who was second a.d. on the Mayan thriller, will produce “Summer Vacation.”

Gibson’s Icon Prods., which financed “Apocalypto,” is putting up the coin for “Summer Vacation.” Gibson has been quietly scouting locations south of the border for nearly a year and will start shooting the pic in March in San Diego and Mexico’s Veracruz state, which provided the backdrop for “Apocalypto.”

Icon partner Bruce Davey is also producing “Summer Vacation.”

Gibson has two upcoming starring pics under his belt: the Graham King produced conspiracy thriller “Edge of Darkness” and the Jodie Foster-helmed black comedy “The Beaver.” He is expected to direct the untitled Viking pic in the fall.

Gibson is repped by WME.

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