Warner Bros., Christopher Nolan tap helmer for franchise reboot

Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures have zeroed in on Zack Snyder to get Superman on the bigscreen again.

Once Snyder’s deal is hammered out, the helmer behind the adaptations of the graphic novels “300” and “The Watchmen,” as well as the equally visual “Sucker Punch,” out next year, will work closely with Christopher Nolan to reboot the franchise.

Nolan, of course, revised the Batman franchise for Warner Bros., and is set to direct the third installment, skedded for July 20, 2012, and the studio has turned to the director to oversee development of Superman.

“He provides that extra bit of wisdom to a process that sometimes lacks it,” Snyder told Daily Variety. “It’s the best situation we could be in for this character.”

Nolan will produce the Superman actioner with wife Emma Thomas, as well as Charles Roven (“The Dark Knight”), Deborah Snyder (“Watchmen” and “Sucker Punch”).

David Goyer (“Batman Begins”) is writing the script, based on a story by Goyer and Nolan. Plot details are being kept under wraps.

“It’s still early in the process but I will say that the story that Chris and David have laid out is pretty awesome,” Snyder said.

Legendary will co-finance half of the Superman pic, with the company’s chief Thomas Tull, on board as executive producer. Legendary was also behind “Superman Returns,” which starred Brandon Routh, and the recent hits “Inception” and “The Town.”

Routh isn’t likely to don the red and blue tights again, Snyder said.

The studio is hoping to get the new film ready for release into theaters for holiday 2012. That would give the studio two powerhouse franchise films through its DC division that Warner Bros. is trying to breathe new life into across various divisions, starting with next summer’s “Green Lantern.”

Warners is eager to get the Man of Steel into megaplexes again. The character is not only one of DC Comics’ biggest icons, he’s also a major revenue generator for the studio through TV shows like “Smallville,” videogames and merchandise.

At the same time, Warners needs to get another Superman into theaters, otherwise it risks losing the rights to the character.

With Snyder, not only is the studio turning to a director it has had a long relationship with, since “300,” in 2006, but a filmmaker who’s a diehard fanboy and a regular presenter at Comic-Con each year.

His “Watchmen” was a faithful adaptation of the Alan Moore book that essentially serves as the bible for how superheroes are portrayed in comicbooks and on film today.

“It’s hard not to be a Superman fan with his place in pop culture and how iconographic he is,” Snyder said.

While “Superman Returns,” directed by Bryan Singer, earned more than $391 million worldwide, the film didn’t get the thumbs up by many critics, and audiences complained that it lacked high-octane action sequences — something moviegoers can’t say about Snyder’s growing slate of films so far, even with his first 3D-animated outing, the “The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole,” getting off to a slower start with $30 million over two weeks.

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