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U bulks up ‘Hulk’

Hensleigh set to make helming bow

Marvel Comics’ Hulk is stomping toward the bigscreen.

Jonathan Hensleigh, who scripted “The Rock” and Touchstone’s upcoming summer 1998 event film “Armageddon,” will make his feature film directorial debut with one of his own scripts, “Hulk,” for Universal Pictures.

Based on the 1960s Marvel comic created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, “Hulk” will be the first picture in Hensleigh’s two-year, first-look pact with the studio.

The project follows the adventures of mild-mannered Dr. Bruce Banner, whose alter ego is a pumped-up, green monster who is incensed by injustice. The story follows an experiment that leads to the creation of Hulk, and in the process opens a Pandora’s box by accidentally creating three powerful male villains.

“The Incredible Hulk” was also a successful television show, airing from 1978-82 on CBS and starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno.

The film will be produced Gale Anne Hurd (who produced U’s “Dante’s Peak”) and exec produced by Marvel Studios’ Avi Arad and Stan Lee.

The filmmakers are targeting an early winter shoot in Arizona for a summer 1998 release. ILM is in advance negotiations to create the special effects. The studio is looking at the property as a possible franchise.

Hensleigh was in line for the project after helmer Joe Johnston dropped out to move to U’s “Rocket Boys” (Daily Variety, July 8). Johnston at one point had also been attached to U’s “Thieves.”

Hensleigh’s recent credits also include “The Saint” and a rewrite on “Con Air.”

The deal was negotiated by Endeavor’s David Lonner and attorney Steve Warren.

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