Chee Keong Cheung to direct 'Apocalypse'

Longtime Robert Rodriguez collaborator Carlos Gallardo and Kevin Eastman, co-creator of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” have paired up to exec produce “Zombie Apocalypse,” from tyro scribe and helmer Chee Keong Cheung.

U.K.-based Intense Prods will produce the pic, which will add mixed martial arts to differentiate the film from the traditional zombie tale.

Intense is developing pic as a trilogy that will also launch a graphic novel and merchandise tie-ins, including a videogame.

Heavy Metal Publishing, headed by Eastman, will publish the graphic novel and oversee the property’s other merchandise deals.

“I’m a big action and zombie fan and I’m really excited Chee asked me to be part of the film,” Eastman said. “When Chee showed me the script and told me what he wanted to do with it, I just thought it was awesome.”

In “Zombie Apocalypse,” zombies start to take control of the world as they turn into malevolent versions of their former selves, making eradication near impossible.

Mark Strange and Steve Horvath co-wrote the zombie pic.

“When I read the screenplay for ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ I was completely mesmerised,” said Gallardo, who produced Rodriguez’s “El Mariachi,” “Desperado” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico.” “Chee is a great young director with a lot of talent and I believe a big career ahead of him and he reminds me of my early days and collaboration with my good friend Robert Rodriguez.”

Cheung, a British-Chinese writer, director, most recently produced “Bodyguard: A New Beginning” that Lionsgate will distrib in North America.

Strange and Michael Riley of Sterling Pictures, in association with U.K. indie Magic Lantern Digital Prods, headed by Mick Southworth and Martin McCabe, will also exec produce.

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