Replaces Eric Bana in diamond-heist thriller

Gerard Butler is set to star in Lakeshore Entertainment’s diamond-heist thriller “Brilliant,” which will reunite him with helmer Robert Luketic, who directed the Scottish thesp in “The Ugly Truth.”

Butler replaces Eric Bana, who was in negotiations to topline the pic as of September 2011.

First-time scribe Gillian Gorfil wrote the script, which follows a small-time criminal who partners with a female thief to pull off a daring diamond heist.

Sidney Kimmel, Gary Lucchesi and Tom Rosenberg will produce with Gorfil (“Blood Diamond”). The quartet is still searching for a female lead before the pic starts production this May in Boston.

Butler, who’s coming off dramatic turns in Marc Forster’s “Machine Gun Preacher” and Ralph Fiennes’ “Coriolanus,” is prepping for a busy year. In addition to a role in Relativity’s omnibus comedy “Movie 43,” he toplines Curtis Hanson’s surfing pic “Of Men and Mavericks” and Gabriele Muccino’s romantic sports pic “Playing the Field.” He’s also attached to star in two action pics — Antoine Fuqua’s “Hunter Killer” and Simon West’s “Thunder Run.”

Butler is repped by CAA and Alan Siegel Entertainment.

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