Tamahori, Par spin to ‘Spider’

Freeman reprising detective role

Kiwi helmer Lee Tamahori is nearing a deal to direct “Along Came a Spider,” the prequel to the 1997 Paramount hit “Kiss the Girls.”

Based on James Patterson’s 1993 thriller of the same name, “Spider” is being produced by the original “Girl” co-producers: David Brown’s Manhattan Project and Joe Wizan’s Phase One Prods.

Under Gary Fleder’s helm, “Kiss the Girls” became a sleeper hit after its October 1997 release, earning $61 million domestically for Paramount and equity investor Rysher Entertainment.

Marc Moss, who worked with Patterson as an uncredited writer on “Girls,” penned the thriller’s script.

Morgan Freeman will reprise his role as Dr. Alex Cross, a Washington, D.C., criminal psychologist and detective. This time, the good doctor must find two kidnapped girls before a serial killer does them in.

With Freeman and Tamahori onboard, Par is looking toward a January start for “Spider,” which executive VP Don Granger is overseeing for the studio.

Tamahori, best known for helming the critically lauded 1994 drama “Once Were Warriors,” last directed Fox’s wilderness actioner “The Edge” with Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin. While “Spider” looks to be Tamahori’s next outing, he also has been developing “Rockwood” for Imagine Entertainment and a remake of “The Tenth Victim” for Pressman Film Corp., IEG and Quadra Entertainment.

Tamahori is repped by ICM and attorney Robert Wallerstein of Armstrong, Hirsch; Freeman is repped by Jeff Hunter at the William Morris Agency in New York.