Penn, Bale in talks to star

Following the success of Liam Neeson starrer “Unknown,” Joel Silver’s Dark Castle and Europe’s StudioCanal are reteaming on Afghanistan-set action-thriller “The Last Photograph,” with Christian Bale and Sean Penn in talks to star.

StudioCanal, which will co-finance “Photograph” with Dark Castle, will distribute pic in France, the U.K. and Germany, and handle sales in the rest of the world outside North America, where “Photograph” will be put through Dark Castle’s distribution deal with Warner Bros.

The pic is helmed by Dane Niels Arden Oplev (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) from a script by Kurt Johnstad (“300″).

Penn would play an ex-special ops soldier who arrives in Afghanistan to seek vengeance for the murder of his brother’s family. He enlists a war photographer (Bale), the sole survivor of the attack that killed his brother, who captured the event in a photo.

“I’m very excited. I’ve known Sean Penn for many years and always wanted to work with him and hope very much to work with Christian Bale, too,” Silver told Daily Variety.

Zack Snyder is producing the pic with partner Deborah Snyder at their Cruel and Unusual Films, along with Hollywood Gang’s Gianni Nunnari. Silver and Dark Castle’s Andrew Rona and Steve Richard are also producing.

The plan is to go into production in 2012, after Bale finishes “The Dark Knight Rises,” Silver said, adding he’d love to shoot in India.

StudioCanal will distribute “Photograph” in France and in the U.K. via its subsid Optimum, and in Germany via subsid Kinowelt.

StudioCanal’s “Photograph” deal underscores its burgeoning production/financing alliance with Dark Castle.

It co-produced Dark Castle’s hit action thriller “Unknown,” directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, distributing it in the U.K., France and Germany. On “Photograph,” it combines distribution and international sales.

” ‘Last Photograph’ is the type of project we love at StudioCanal: an elevated genre movie with a great script, great producers, great cast and a great European director,” said StudioCanal chairman-CEO Olivier Courson.

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