‘Bookie’ marked at New Line

New Line Cinema, betting heavily on a remake of the John Cassavetes/Ben Gazzara 1976 cult pic “The Killing of a Chinese Bookie,” is in final talks for a script from son Nick Cassavetes and a directing deal with Brett Ratner, the studio confirmed Monday.

Cassavetes also will exec produce the project, which will be based on his father’s script. Ratner will produce.

The original pic, which the senior Cassavetes directed and Gazzara starred in, was about an L.A. nightclub owner, deeply in debt to gangsters, who must kill a Chinese bookie to save himself.

Cassavetes is expected to do a rewrite from scratch, updating the pic. Ratner and Cassavetes will jet to Miami next week to do research on mobsters. The new version will be set in the vice-ridden Florida burg.

The idea for the project originated a few weeks ago during a meeting with Ratner, a longtime fan of the senior Cassavetes’ films, and New Line prexy of production Michael De Luca.

New Line is keen on finding more helming projects for Ratner, who has “Money Talks” due out Oct. 1 for the studio. He also will start production on “Rush Hour,” starring Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan, in October for NLC.

“This was something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid because I’m such a fan of John Cassavetes,” Ratner told Daily Variety.

New Line is picking up rights to the film from the Cassavetes family.

Jay Stern, New Line VP of production, will oversee the project with De Luca.

Cassavetes is hot from the recent showing of his “She’s So Lovely,” also from a script by his father, at the Cannes Film Festival. Pic is due out Aug. 15 from Miramax.

The deal was brokered for Ratner and Cassavetes by William Morris agents Scott Lambert and Gaby Morgerman. Manager Geyer Kosinski also repped Cassavetes.

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