Dimension eyes ‘Rambo’ redux

Zeik inked to pen fourth in series

Dimension Films, which last month signed Ron Shusett and Gary Goldman to write “Total Recall 2,” is moving ahead just as aggressively with another former Carolco property, “Rambo,” inking “Ronin” scribe J.D. Zeik to pen the pic.

The Miramax-owned division hopes that Zeik, who suddenly has become one of the busiest writers in Hollywood, will reinvigorate the franchise that it acquired for $500,000 at the Carolco auction in May 1997.

At present, there is neither a concept nor a story for the next “Rambo” installment. Zeik initially will write a treatment, working closely with “Rambo” creator and “First Blood” author David Morell, which Dimension has retained as a consultant on the project.

None of the parties concerned would reveal the terms of the deal between Dimension and Zeik. But, it is likely to equal or exceed the scribe’s payday for the UA spy thriller “Ronin,” which was in the region of $750,000.

Dimension sources said once a script is ready, the pic will move forward, pending the involvement of Sylvester Stallone, who starred in the first three “Rambo” episodes.

At present Stallone is not attached to the project. However, Dimension is keen for him to reprise his role, and sources close to Stallone, while emphasizing that there were “no discussions” with the film company at present, were careful to leave the door open as to his future participation.

Stallone already has established a relationship with Miramax/Dimension, having starred in the James Mangold-helmed “Copland.” That role was a departure for Stallone into lower-budget, specialized filmmaking, and it won the actor some of the best critical plaudits of his career.

Zeik has shot to prominence without having a single film released. MGM will release “Ronin,” which was directed by John Frankenheimer and stars Robert De Niro, Sean Bean and Natascha McElhone, in November.

Zeik will make his directorial debut with his script “Bad Karma,” a gangster drama to be produced by Paul Kelmenson (“Ronin”), Revolution Films’ Marc Ezralow and Avenue Pictures’ Cary Brokaw.

His other projects around town include “Name of the Bullfighter” for director Alfonso Cuaron at Warner Bros. and an adaptation of Don Winslow’s P.I. novel “Cool Breeze in the Underground,” which is in development at Columbia Pictures.

Dimension senior vice president of production Andrew Rona and director of development and production Beth Calabro were responsible for bringing the writer into the company.

Miramax senior vice president of business and legal affairs Vicki Cherkas negotiated on behalf of the studio.

Zeik was repped by Kelmenson at Unlimited Management, and by attorney Steve Dembitzer at Goldstein & Dembitzer.