Constantin taps Blake to pen 'Winnetou'

Helmer Robert Schwentke, fresh off the success of “Red” and currently bringing “R.I.P.D.” to life, is delving into the rise of the Nazi Party in his native Germany for Constantin Film’s “The Poison Kitchen.”

Pic is one of several high-profile projects on the German mini-major’s 2012 slate.

Constantin is also revisiting the Old West, tapping “Dances With Wolves” scribe Michael Blake to adapt “Winnetou,” one of the most beloved Native American heroes in German literature.

“The Poison Kitchen,” penned by Matthew Sand (“Ninja Assassin”) and produced by Constantin’s Robert Kulzer and Margo Klewans, tells the true story of the Munich Post, the newspaper that waged war for more than a decade against the burgeoning Nazi Party and its leader Adolf Hitler, who referred to the broadsheet as the “Munich Pest.”

After ascending to power in 1933, Nazi stormtroopers raided the paper, destroyed the printing presses and imprisoned the editorial staff, shutting down the paper for good.

Pic, which takes its name from a chapter in Ron Rosenbaum’s “Explaining Hitler,” published by Random House, is being fast-tracked by Constantin, most likely as an English-language production.

Moszkowicz, Constantin’s head of film and television, said the idea is to make a real movie thriller as opposed to a historical-political drama, adding that Schwentke was the ideal director to do just that.

“We’ve always wanted to do a movie about the ramp up to 1933: What happened in the early years, how did Hitler get to where he ended up and how did that work? That’s really about this time,” said Moszkowicz, who is exec producing.

In addition, Blake is penning an English-language adaptation of Karl May’s “Winnetou,” a German-language classic about the American West that spawned several novels.

Hugely popular in Germany, the books inspired a series of films in the 1960s, shot on location in Yugoslavia, that starred French thesp Pierre Brice as the Apache hero Winnetou and American actor Lex Barker as his faithful pale-faced companion Old Shatterhand.

The pic goes into production next year, possibly in New Mexico, which would provide authentic locations for the Apache tale and tax credits. Kulzer and Moszkowicz are again producing and exec producing, respectively.

Constantin’s current line up is looking strong. The company is certain to light up the box office next month with Paul W.S. Anderson’s “The Three Musketeers” and Christian Ditter’s tyke Viking actioner “Wickie and the Treasure of the Gods,” and follows this fall with Roman Polanski’s “Carnage.”

Schwentke is repped by CAA, Sand is repped by ICM.

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