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WB clears ‘Sphere’ for production start

After a delay to reconfigure the special effects budget and production design, Warner Bros.’ underwater sci-fi thriller “Sphere” will start shooting Monday with Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone and Samuel L. Jackson in the leads. Barry Levinson directs.

The project, based on Michael Crichton’s novel, had been shut down during pre-production in October. But Warner Bros. decided to proceed with a budget now pegged at around $80 million (Daily Variety, Nov. 12). Stephen Hauser and Paul Attanasio wrote the script.

Hoffman plays a psychologist who joins a project team exploring an alien craft that seems to have been submerged at the bottom of the ocean for almost 300 years. In the deep, a series of mysterious incidents unfold around them. Stone and Jackson play specialists on the team.

The pic will shoot at Mare Island, a former military base in Vallejo, Calif.

Also starring are Peter Coyote, Queen Latifah and Liev Schreiber. Levinson, Crichton and Andrew Wald are producers; Peter Giuliano is exec producer.

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