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Pics slated in Samaha-Stone deal

Lineup includes Snipes actioner

Elie Samaha and Oliver Stone have agreed on the first two films that they will make under their three-picture co-financing deal: the Wesley Snipes starrer “The Art of War” and a drama titled “Stalk.”

“War” will be a co-production between Stone’s Illusion Entertainment Group, Snipes’ Amen Ra Films, and Samaha and Andrew Stevens’ film-making entity Franchise Pictures.

The $30 million action pic, written by Wayne Beach, will be produced by Samaha and Illusion’s Dan Halsted, and exec produced by Stone, Snipes, Amen Ra’s Victor McGauley and Tony Ganz. Stanley Tong (“Mr. Magoo”) is in discussions to direct.

In “War,” Snipes will play a top-secret U.N. operative who is framed for the murder of a Chinese ambassador and must fight both the police and the real killers to clear his name. Jet Li (“Lethal Weapon 4”) previously was attached to the pic.

Shooting is skedded to begin July 1. Franchise will provide financing for the film and distribute it domestically via its output deal with Morgan Creek/Warner Bros.

The less than $10 million “Stalk” is described as “a darkly comic look at obsessive relationships.” Russell DeGrazier is attached to direct from his own screenplay. Samaha and Stevens will exec produce, while Halsted, John Krauss and Franchise’s Tracee Stanley will produce. Again, Franchise wants the pic to roll this summer, with casting imminent.

Stone and Samaha made their agreement last year, with Franchise getting first crack at financing and co-producing development projects on Illusion’s slate. Illusion has a first-look deal with Mandalay Pictures.

Snipes and Tong are repped by the William Morris Agency.

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