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Del Toro brings horror comic to Disney

DEL TORO DOES ‘DOMU’ AT DISNEY: Touchstone Pictures will turn the Japanese comic book “Domu” into a horror feature to be written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro, with Don Murphy’s Angry Films producing.

The comic is a cult favorite in Japan, penned by the country’s top comic book artist, Akira Katsushiro Otomo. It focuses on an apartment complex that seems cursed when yuppie residents end up dying in gruesome suicides. It turns out that a lonely old resident with psychic powers is doing the misdeeds. He ultimately does battle with a little girl who moves in, possessing the same powers as the old man.

“It’s a horror lullaby with dense characters and great atmosphere,” said Del Toro, the Mexican helmer whose recent films include “Cronos” and the Dimension thriller “Mimic.” Del Toro and Murphy are comic book aficionados who were fans of Otomo’s work, and set out to Americanize the story.

Horror is a hot genre, and David Vogel, president of the Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group, was looking for a fright vehicle. He found it in “Domu,” which could well be Del Toro’s next directing effort. The director’s repped by manager Gary Ungar and William Morris’ Lee Stollman, Mike Simpson and Frank Frattaroli.

JACKSON IN “SKULL” SESSION: The WB series “Dawson’s Creek” has been a springboard to features for its cast members and has gotten Joshua Jackson his first major screen lead role. Jackson will star in “Skulls,” a drama described as “The Firm” set at an Ivy League college. The film will be produced by Neal Moritz, whose Original Films has turned teen fare into a cottage industry.

The “Creek” quartet of Jackson, James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes and Michelle Williams is turning out films with high frequency, and “Creek” fans seem to be following them to theaters. The most extreme case was Van Der Beek, who was paid around $150,000 for “Varsity Blues,” which opened to $14.3 million. Jackson, who begins shooting “Skulls” on his series hiatus in May, stars in the WB pic “Gossip” this fall. He was recently seen in “Cruel Intentions” and “Urban Legend,” both produced by Moritz. Jackson was repped by William Morris agents Theresa Peters, Jeff Field and John Fogelman, and managed by Atlas Ent.

MOLINA TO HELM: Alfred Molina, long thought of as a solid character actor, is branching into several new directions that include directing, producing and leading man. He’ll star in the Chris Thompson-created sitcom “Ladies Man,” a Columbia/TriStar project that has been picked up for pilot by CBS. The pickup has led Molina and his manager, Joan Hyler, to set up a production company together on the Sony lot for a number of projects, including Molina’s feature directing debut. That, he hopes, will come on a Tom Griffin script “Fidelity,” a character-driven mystery.

“After 25 years in the business, the idea of just having the word ‘actor’ on my headstone doesn’t thrill me, and I’ve worked toward this a long time,” said Molina, who is starring with Alan Alda and Victor Garber in “Art” at L.A.’s Doolittle Theater. He and Hyler, who will continue to run her four-year-old management company, have formed the new SPE-based company Always Eleven/Hyler-Scissors, and just hired Adam Gascoyne as veep of development.

Molina, who’ll be seen as Snidely Whiplash in the U summer pic “Dudley Do-Right,” has also signed on to rejoin his “Boogie Nights” director Paul ThomasAnderson in the ensemble piece “Magnolia.” Molina’s deals were made by William Morris’s Jenny Delaney.

TAYE FINDS NEW DIGGS: Actor Taye Diggs has signed for the MGM teen thriller “Depraved Indifference,” co-starring with Meredith Monroe and Dominique Swain. He’ll play a deputy sheriff assigned to investigate the mysterious death of a college teenager in a film to be directed by Zoe Clark Williams. It is the fifth role Diggs has taken in the last year.

Discovered in Central Park by a manager who thought he had an interesting look, Diggs got a break playing Benny the landlord in the original cast of the Broadway musical “Rent,” which led to playing Angela Bassett’s young lover in “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.” Since then, it’s been a blur for Diggs, who’s now shooting the remake of the 1958 Vincent Price horror thriller “House on Haunted Hill” for Joel Silver and Bob Zemeckis’s Dark Castle Entertainment.

He’ll next be seen in the Doug Liman-directed “Go” out April 12, and recently completed “The Best Man” for Universal and “The Wood” for Paramount. Diggs is agented by CAA and repped by the Abe Hoch Management Co.

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