Thesp agrees to star in Warner Bros. sci-fi tentpole

After sitting in development limbo for many months, “All You Need Is Kill” may finally be on the fast track as Tom Cruise has agreed to star.

Based on the graphic novel, the original story is in the vein of “Groundhog Day,” with a twist: A soldier in a war against aliens finds himself reliving his last day over and over after being killed. Through the training and battles he experiences in these time loops, he becomes a better soldier.

While a deal with the studio isn’t officially signed, Cruise has been weighing this role for some time after continued talks with director Doug Liman.

Sources say Warners. prexy Jeff Robinov always wanted a big star, though the script called for a younger actor like Ryan Gosling or Joseph Gordon Levitt. Studio has already had the script rewritten to make the character fit Cruise’s age.

Dante Harper penned the script with Joby Harold doing the rewrite. Sources said Cruise liked the script so much that Liman traveled to Pittsburgh, where the thesp was shooting Paramount and Skydance’s “One Shot,” to meet with the actor about the role.

Another important development: Liman, who’s been onboard to direct “Kill” for some time, has lined it up as his next project. For months, Liman had been weighing doing this or the Paramount space adventure “Luna,” which struggled to assemble financing and saw David Ellison’s Skydance Productions drop out — forcing Liman to turn to “Kill” for now.

Cruise’ busy schedule could enable Liman to do both: After “One Shot,” Cruise is expected to shoot the Universal sci-fier “Oblivion” in March, then start on “Kill” in the late third/early fourth quarter of 2012. No start date is yet set.

Though sources close to the studio were a little worried that Cruise may be passive about doing back-to-back sci-fi pics, sources close to Cruise added that his biggest reason for taking the role is Liman’s persistence in their talks that both films would be completely different.

Insiders go on to add that “Oblivion” will be his next film he shoots, which will go sometime in March. There are some scheduling issues that need to be worked out but given that “Oblivion” is so far along in the casting process and “All You Need Is Kill” still fairly early in the development and pre-production stage, both sides should find a way to work those issues out.

Cruise, repped by CAA, can be seen next in Par and Skydance’s “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,” which bows Dec. 16, followed by New Line’s “Rock of Ages” next summer.

Erwin Stoff, Tom Lassally and Jason Hoffs are producing through 3 Arts Entertainment.

Harold is an exec producer on the project.

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