British thesp to play superhero in reboot

Superman is taking flight again with British thesp Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel.

Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures made the announcement Sunday morning and said that the reboot of the tentpole franchise would hit theaters in December 2012.

Zack Snyder, who has directed “300,” “Watchmen” and the upcoming “Sucker Punch” for Warners, was tapped in October as director of the yet-to-be titled Superman project.

“In the pantheon of superheroes, Superman is the most recognized and revered character of all time, and I am honored to be a part of his return to the big screen,” Snyder said in a statement. “I also join Warner Bros., Legendary and the producers in saying how excited we are about the casting of Henry. He is the perfect choice to don the cape and S shield.”

Cavill is best known for playing the brother in law of Henry VIII in the Showtime series “The Tudors.” He’ll be seen in Greek mythology actioner “Immortals,” portraying Thesus, in November; he also recently wrapped action-thriller “The Cold Light of Day” with Bruce Willis.

Charles Roven, Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan and Deborah Snyder are producing, with Legendary topper Thomas Tull and Lloyd Phillips exec producing.

Plot details remain under wraps. Screenplay’s being penned by David S. Goyer, based on a story by Goyer and Nolan.

Goyer’s attachment first emerged a year ago when he was in talks to pen the script, tentatively titled “Man of Steel,” with Warner aiming to get a new Superman pic on the bigscreen before it potentially loses the copyright on the character in 2013.

Goyer helped breathe new life into the Batman franchise in 2005 by co-writing “Batman Begins,” which went on to earn $352 million worldwide. Its follow-up, “The Dark Knight,” for which he helped develop the story, earned $1 billion.

Nolan is set to direct his third Batman installment, “The Dark Knight Rises,” skedded for July 20, 2012. Warners turned to Nolan last year to oversee development of the Superman reboot.

Legendary teamed with Warner Bros. on the last iteration of The Man of Steel, the Brandon Routh starrer “Superman Returns.”

“Returns,” directed by Bryan Singer, earned more than $391 million worldwide but the film wasn’t particularly popular among the core fanboy audience, with complaints that the action sequences fell short.

Cavill had been under consideration to play the lead in “Superman Returns,” the fifth pic in the franchise launched by 1978′s “Superman,” starring Christopher Reeve.

By getting the Superman reboot into theaters for holiday 2012, Warners will have a pair of powerhouse entries, as Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit Part One” is due for release at the same time.

Warner execs have been working hard to reboot Superman since the character’s a major icon of its DC Entertainment division and a major revenue generator through TV shows like “Smallville,” vidgames and merchandise.

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