Robert Rodriguez wields ‘Machete’

Director plans pair of pics

Robert Rodriguez is ready to cut a wide swath and his plans include re-launching the “Predator” franchise for Fox and co-directing “Machete.”

For the latter, the filmmaker will create a feature out of the blade-wielding antihero who appeared in a mock trailer that was part of “Grindhouse.”

Rodriguez is eyeing a June start date in Austin for “Machete,” a film that is financed and produced by Overnight Productions, with Danny Trejo starring as the title character.

Machete is a Mexican ex-Federale with a gift for wielding a blade who hides out as a day laborer and is double-crossed by a corrupt state senator.

Rodriguez wrote the script and will co-direct the film with Ethan Maniquis, his longtime editor. Maniquis will shoot all the new footage, which will be combined with existing footage Rodriguez shot for the “Grindhouse” trailer.

Not immediately clear is whether Rodriguez and Overnight will find a way to use the marketing slogan that appeared in the “Grindhouse” trailer: “This time, they fucked with the wrong Mexican.” It is the first non-studio movie that Rodriguez has directed since “El Mariachi.”

For Fox, Rodriguez has scripted “Predators,” a film that will bring back the dreadlock-sporting alien hunter who originated in the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger hit “Predator.” While a sequel wasn’t a hit, Fox kept the alien sharp by launching the “Alien vs. Predator,” a wildly profitable series that has racked up strong grosses and DVD sales, with little or no gross out the door.

Rodriguez will next direct his script “Nerveracker” for Dimension Films, with Bob Weinstein setting a 2010 release for the futuristic action thriller.

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