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There’s new ‘Batman’ in WB’s belfry

Yakin tapped to update Dark Knight in 'Beyond'

Now Warner Bros. Pictures has two bats in its belfry.

Director Boaz Yakin (“Remember the Titans”) has been hired to co-write and direct Warner Bros.’ live-action adaptation of the WB Kids Network animated series “Batman Beyond.”

The ramping up of the live-action “Batman Beyond,” however, does not supersede Warners’ plans to continue the long-running “Batman” franchise. Sources say that the studio also wants to move forward with the next installment in the superhero’s adventures, which most recently took the form of 1997’s “Batman & Robin,” starring George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell as the Dynamic Duo.

In negotiations to join Yakin in writing the “Batman Beyond” feature are Paul Dini and Alan Burnett, creators of the “Batman Beyond” TV series. In negotiations to consult on the story’s various creative aspects is cyberpunk sci-fi novelist Neal Stephenson (“Cryptonomicon”).

Perhaps the most important difference between the “Batman” feature series and the “Batman Beyond” project will be the identity of the person beneath the black cape and hood.

The “Batman Beyond” skein is set 40 years in the future, and Bruce Wayne is no longer Batman. His role is now filled by Tim McGinnis, a Gotham highschooler who must battle the evil corporate forces who killed his father and now control what was once Wayne’s empire.

Yakin most recently directed Denzel Washington in the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced “Remember the Titans,” which will be released by Touchstone Pictures on Sept. 28. He also helmed “A Price Above Rubies,” starring Renee Zellweger, and “Fresh,” starring Samuel L. Jackson, both released by Miramax.

In addition to helping create “Batman Beyond,” which launched on the WB Kids Network last year, Dini and Burnett were writers on the TV films “Batman Beyond: The Movie,” “The Batman/Superman Movie” and “Superman: The Last Son of Krypton,” as well as the 1993 Warner Bros. Animation feature “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.”

Dini is penning “Million Dollar Hero” for New Line Cinema. His credits also include “Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker,” an animated direct-to-video title that will be released Oct. 24.

Burnett was also a writer on “Batman: The Animated Series,” which ran for six seasons, first on the Fox network and later on the WB.

Yakin is repped by UTA and attorney John Diemer at Bloom Hergott Cook Diemer & Klein. Dini and Stephenson are repped by UTA. Burnett is repped by the Gersh Agency.

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