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New Line sharpens ‘Blade 3’

After third installment, Goyer done writing for 'other directors'

New Line has struck a two-picture deal with David Goyer that will commence with “Blade 3,” which he will write and produce. Deal then calls for Goyer to direct an original script.

Goyer wrote “Blade” and its sequel, which was recently shot in Prague by director Guillermo del Toro with Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson reprising their roles as bloodsucker hunters.

Pics are based on the Marvel Comics series.

The studio has commissioned Goyer to proceed with the next installment, even though “Blade 2” doesn’t premiere until March.

“Blade” is one of several charmed New Line franchises that are poised to reach the trifecta mark, with another “Austin Powers” in the preparation stage, and a third “Rush Hour” an inevitability after the second installment heads for the $200 million domestic gross mark.

The second installment of the New Line deal, which calls for Goyer to direct a feature he’ll script, comes after production prexy Toby Emmerich and exec veep Lynn Harris eyeballed Goyer’s directing debut, the urban drama “Zig Zag,” and wanted to be part of what will become the primary focus of Goyer’s career.

“After ‘Blade 3,’ I’m done writing for other directors,” said Goyer. “I’ve had enough frustrations over 10 years that I’ve realized, I can do it myself.” While most of Goyer’s efforts have been effects-heavy films like “Blade,” “Dark City” and “The Crow,” “Zig Zag” is a sweet but gritty coming-of-age story of a young boy with a learning disability and an abusive father who is kept on the straight and narrow by a neighborhood friend. Goyer got “Blade” star Snipes to play a role, in addition to Oliver Platt, Natasha Lyonne and John Leguizamo, a strong cast for a film that cost $3.5 million, financed by Elie Samaha.

“I was impressed that he chose to go not in an obvious direction for his directing debut,” said Harris. “We’ve a long-standing relationship through the ‘Blade’ franchise and he’s shown us he’s got broad interests and talents beyond that genre. We want to keep close to us those who’ve done well by us.”

New Line isn’t alone in sparking to Goyer’s directing potential. He’s got a deal at Miramax to adapt and direct a film based on the Neil Gaiman short story “Murder Mysteries,” as well as an option to script and direct a film based on the Marvel comicbook series “Dr. Strange.” As part of the New Line deal, Goyer will have overhead to house his new film banner, Ghostlight, which will be staffing up as he expands his base in film and television.

Goyer’s other major piece of scripting business, the Dimension/Crystal Sky co-production “Ghost Rider,” has been brought back to the shop. The film, about a motorcycle stuntman who morphs into a flame-faced hero, was nearly ready to go into production with Nicolas Cage starring for Steve Norrington, who directed the original “Blade.”

Progress came to a stop when Norrington bolted to direct the Columbia drama “Tick-Tock,” a drama that will star Jennifer Lopez, with shooting expected to begin late in the year. Goyer said they’re looking for another director, and the hope is that Cage will hang in there in the lead role.

Goyer is repped by the William Morris Agency.

MIRAMAX HAS YEN FOR “YANG”: Miramax Films, which is taking a greater interest in acquiring movies from Asia and shooting them there, has put up midsix figures for the pitch “Women Warriors of the Yang Family,” a blueprint for a period epic that will be written by Donald Martin and Anna Chi, and produced by Janet Yang. The pitch takes its inspiration from a 9th-century A.D. legend, focusing on the Yang family women and their struggle between love and duty as they try to recover the body of a son felled in battle. At the same time, they help defend their nation from invasion.

Martin is adapting “The Day I Went Missing” for Wes Craven at Dimension, and Chi, who’s also a co-producer on “Yang Family,” was associate producer on “Killing Me Softly,” the MGM drama starring Joseph Fiennes and Heather Graham. Producer Yang most recently produced the Carl Franklin-directed New Regency film “High Crimes,” with Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman, and “The Weight of Water,” the Kathryn Bigelow-directed Lions Gate pic starring Sean Penn, Elizabeth Hurley and Sarah Polley. Miramax execs Michelle Sy, Louis Anderman and Barry Littman tag-teamed on the deal, with Sandy Weinberg of the Summit Agency repping the writers.

OVER AND ‘UNDER’: The HBO series “Six Feet Under” has been catching on with audiences, but series co-star Rachel Griffiths has been too busy to take notice.

The actress, who plays Brenda on the drama, recently completed co-starring with Dennis Quaid in Disney’s “The Rookie,” then headed home to Melbourne, Australia, to direct the short “Roundabout.” Based on her own script, the story is about an ordinary man who leaves for work one morning, and has an incident which plunges him into a “Twilight Zone”–type ordeal. It’s Griffith’s second short pic, after “Tulip,” about a man’s adjustment to his wife’s death and how it affects a cow.

Griffiths then joined fellow Aussie Guy Pearce in “Blood and Guts,” a film written and being directed by Scott Roberts. She’ll finish that film and return from Down Under just in time to start the second season of “Six Feet Under” in late September.

She’s repped by UTA and manager Michael Aglion.

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