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Lionsgate grabs ‘Kick-Ass’

Distributor plans wide 2010 release

Lionsgate has grabbed U.S. and Canadian rights to Matthew Vaughn’s action-comedy “Kick-Ass.”

The mini-major has committed to a wide 2010 release.

Lionsgate was an aggressive bidder, stepping up with not only a competitive number but the grit to market the irreverent, violent movie. The distrib has done well with violent horror pics, including the “Saw” franchise, though it has seen less success with comic-based properties such as “The Punisher” and “The Spirit.”

While none of the parties involved would divulge financial details, some sources say the value of the entire domestic package could be close to $45 million.

A deal for the pic’s foreign rights has yet to be made. Studios including Paramount, Fox and Universal have been in the mix. The latter two also looked at the domestic rights.

“Kick-Ass” is based on a comicbook by Mark Millar (“Wanted”) and John Romita Jr. about a comics-obsessed teenager who decides to become a real-life superhero, Kick-Ass, despite a decided lack of superpowers. Vaughn co-wrote the script with his “Stardust” writing partner Jane Goldman. (The scribes also have John Madden-helmed “The Debt” in post at Miramax.)

Cast includes Nicolas Cage, Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz and “Superbad’s” Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Johnson, who plays the titular lead, also has the lead as the young John Lennon in the upcoming Weinstein Co. pic “Nowhere Boy.”

U.S. distribs got their first peek at a rough cut of “Kick-Ass” on July 28, a few days after the fanboys at Comic-Con saw clips of the film and gave it their blessing.

Producers on “Kick-Ass” are Vaughn, Brad Pitt, Tarquin Pack and Kris Thykier. Millar and Romita Jr. are co-producers. Vaughn’s Marv Films shingle and Brad Pitt’s Plan B produced and financed the project with a group of private investors.

Vaughn is Guy Ritchie’s former producing partner, with whom he made “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch,” which featured Pitt. Vaughn also directed Sony Classics’ “Layer Cake.”

Marv’s slate includes Toronto-bound pic “Harry Brown.”

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