Brownlow to update swashbuckler pirate classic

Warner Bros. has set Michael and Peter Spierig to direct and John Brownlow to write a new version of “Captain Blood,” the 1935 swashbuckler pirate classic that starred Errol Flynn as a wrongly imprisoned British doctor who escapes to become a pirate in the Caribbean.

The Spierig brothers got hired because of their innovative idea to set the pirate film in space.

After WB and producer Bill Gerber dusted off the library title and had Brownlow do a faithful first draft, they sought out pitches from filmmakers. The Spierig siblings won the gig with a bold animatic presentation, Gerber said.

“At first, I felt like I was in that scene in ‘The Player,’ where Buck Henry pitches the sequel to ‘The Graduate,'” said Gerber. “But when I took a look at their animatic depiction of a pirate battle in space, it had such a distinctive visual look to it that I said, ‘Great, I get it.'”

Gerber said that despite the radical period and venue switch, the film will be fairly faithful to a plot in which the doctor, Peter Blood, joins up with a French pirate (played in the original by Basil Rathbone), only to clash with the buccaneer when the woman he loves (Olivia de Havilland) is captured by the pirate skipper.

“There are some things you don’t mess with, and that is as classic a movie storyline as you will ever find,” Gerber said.

The Spierig brothers, who first drew notice for their 2003 pic “Undead,” wrote and directed the vampire film “Daybreakers,” which will premiere in the Friday Midnight Madness slot at the Toronto Film Festival before Lionsgate distributes it Jan. 8.

They are repped by WME and Lou Pitt.

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