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Banderas drawn to ‘Phantom’

He's considering masked role

After receiving solid notices for his crooning opposite Madonna in “Evita,” Spanish heartthrob Antonio Banderas is eyeing the lead role in Warner Bros.’ feature adaptation of another Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, “The Phantom of the Opera.”

Lloyd Webber, who has been keen to translate “Phantom” to the big screen for a number of years, told Daily Variety that he wanted Banderas for the part and that he had asked Warner co-chief Terry Semel to sign him.

“Antonio has been offered the part and has expressed a huge interest in doing it,” said another source. “However, the technicalities still have to be worked out.”

Banderas is in London this week for Lloyd Webber’s 50th birthday bash at the Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday, and at which the actor is scheduled to sing several tunes from “Phantom” in the composer’s honor.

The “Phantom” pic, which has been in development since 1991, has attracted interest from several major-league stars, including John Travolta. Bruce Beresford, Franco Zeffirelli and Jerry Zucker have all been mentioned as potential directors.

However, no writer or director is attached or signed.

Sources said that the only potential roadblock to the collaboration is scheduling. Banderas, who has wrapped John McTiernan’s period actioner “Eaters of the Dead,” based on the book by Michael Crichton, will next make his directorial debut with the black comedy “Crazy in Alabama,” starring his wife Melanie Griffith, for Columbia Pictures.

Banderas and Griffith’s Green Moon Prods. has a first-look deal with Warner. Sources did not exclude the possibility that if Banderas signs for “Phantom,” he may get a producer’s role on the pic.

Banderas, next stars in Sony’s summer action-adventure “The Mask of Zorro.” He is repped by CAA.

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