Banderas set for ‘Dead’ pic

Antonio Banderas, who stars in Cinergi Prods.’ upcoming Hollywood Pictures release “Evita,” has agreed to star in Michael Crichton’s “Eaters of the Dead” for Cinergi and Touchstone Pictures, sources said.

The project, which is based on the 1976 novel of the same name, will be directed by John McTiernan from an adaptation by William Wisher. McTiernan and Wisher also recently joined forces to develop Crichton’s latest effort, “Airframe” (Daily Variety, Nov. 25), which Crichton will produce.

“Eaters of the Dead,” set in 922 A.D., is about an Arab courtier who goes with a group of Vikings to the barbaric North. Although the courtier is appalled by the Vikings’ pillaging, barbarism and uncleanliness, he ends up trying to save them from a fatal terror that is eating their flesh. Crichton and McTiernan are producing the pic, and Cinergi topper Andy Vajna is exec producing.

Banderas will first star with Anthony Hopkins in TriStar Pictures’ “Zorro,” which goes before the cameras Jan. 27 with Martin Campbell at the helm. “Evita,” which also stars Madonna and Jonathan Pryce, bows Christmas Day. Banderas is repped by Creative Artists Agency’s Emanuel Nunez.

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