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Widen pipes up with another ‘Highlander’

Paul, Lambert signed to star in Dimension pic

Sci-fi maven Gregory Widen has inked to write and direct the fourth installment of the swashbuckling “Highlander” franchise, “Highlander: The Search for Connor,” for Miramax-owned Dimension Films.

Widen, who penned the original “Highlander” along with Peter Bellwood and Larry Ferguson, will make the pic under his first-look deal with Miramax/Dimension.

It’s three years since the release of “Highlander III: The Sorcerer,” which grossed $14 million in the United States. Although the time-traveling epic has remained active in the interim via a TV spinoff distributed by Rysher Entertainment, Dimension will be looking to Widen to inject a new level of excitement into a relatively moribund franchise.

The TV show’s star, Adrian Paul, is attached to star in the next movie, as is Christopher Lambert, star of the first three pics.

Widen will script the pic together with Eric Bernt, who already has been working on a screenplay. Davis/Panzer Prods.’ Peter Davis and Bill Panzer will produce.

Widen’s screenwriting credits include Ron Howard’s firefighting thriller “Backdraft.” He wrote and directed the sci-fi pic “The Prophecy,” starring Christopher Walken, Eric Stoltz and Virginia Madsen for Overseas Filmgroup. Dimension distributed “Prophecy” in the U.S.

“I’m excited to be back in business with the ‘Highlander’ franchise,” he told Daily Variety.

Also for Dimension, Widen is adapting Harlan Ellison’s novella “Mefisto in Onyx,” for Samuel L. Jackson to star. Industry Entertainment and Jackson will produce the thriller.

Above The Line Agency’s Rima Greer and attorney Craig Emanuel, of Tenenbaum, Emanuel & Fleer, negotiated for Widen.