Bigelow pulls ‘Custer’ duty

Coping with the loss of Brad Pitt as the lead, New Line Cinema has inked Kathryn Bigelow to direct the big-ticket epic “Custer Marching to Valhalla,” sources said Wednesday.

Bigelow, who last directed “Strange Days” for 20th Century Fox, becomes the only above-the-line attachment on the film.

Pitt, who joined the project in 1995, quietly departed for no stated reason. Pitt’s manager, Cynthia Pett, and Brillstein-Grey Entertainment — both of whom had been attached to produce — also ankled the pic.

Pic is a major project for New Line, which shelled out some $3 million in a preemptive buy in 1995 to secure the rights to the book by “Dances With Wolves” author-scripter Michael Blake.

Sources said Bigelow will develop the project with Blake, who is penning the screenplay. Pic will chart the rise and fall of Gen. George Armstrong Custer. Specifically, it will follow Custer’s relationship to his wife, Libby, as well as his military ascension and ultimate demise during the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Bigelow’s other credits include “The Loveless,” “Near Dark,” “Point Break” and “Blue Steel.” She also is developing a project at Universal based on the 1970 killings of four students at Kent State; the bigscreen adaptation of Anita Shreve’s novel “The Weight of Water” at Phoenix Pictures; and two projects under a production pact with Working Title

Bigelow is repped by CAA.

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