Hercules Showdown

Hercules is battling Hercules at the box office next year.

Lionsgate announced Tuesday that it has bought U.S. distribution rights to Millennium Films’ ‘Hercules: The Legend Begins” and dated the Kellan Lutz  action-adventure for Feb. 7 — five months before Paramount opens “Hercules,” starring Dwayne Johnson.

A similar scenario played out earlier this year with a pair of films focused on terrorists taking over the White House with FilmDistrict seeing better U.S. results from releasing “Olympus Has Fallen” in March, three months before Sony launched “White House Down.” “Olympus,” also produced by Millennium, took in $98 million domestically and $161 million worldwide; “White House Down” grossed $73 million in the U.S. and $205 million worldwide.

“Hercules: The Legend Begins” is  directed by Renny Harlin from Daniel Gliat’s screenplay and will be released in 3D and 2D nationwide. The origins story will track Hercules as he’s betrayed by his king, sold into slavery and fighting for his freedom to return to his true love, the Princess of Crete (played by Gaia Weiss).

Scott Adkins, Liam McIntyre, Liam Garrigan, Johnathon Schaech, Roxanne McKee and Rade Serbedzija also star. Producers are Danny Lerner, Les Weldon, Boaz Davidson and Harlin. Executive producers are Avi Lerner, Trevor Short and John Thompson.

“Hercules,” directed by Brett Ratner, is a co-production between MGM and Paramount. That film is based on Radical Studio’s graphic novel “Hercules: The Thracian Wars,” set in a world without the supernatural in which Hercules is a tormented soul who walked the earth, finding his only solace in bloody battle.

Paramount has been on the July 25, 2014, date for “Hercules,” which has a $100 million-plus budget, since early this year.

Besides Johnson, “Hercules” stars Joseph Fiennes, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Rebecca Ferguson, Aksel Hennie and John Hurt. Producers on the film, which recently concluded a three-month shoot in Budapest, Hungary, are Beau Flynn, Barry Levine and Brett Ratner.

Lutz starred in all five “Twilight” films — four of which were released by Summit before it was acquired by Lionsgate — and will appear in Lionsgate’s “The Expendables 3.″

Lionsgate will release “Hercules: the Legend Begins” through its Summit label.

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