Martian orders for Paramount, Cruise-Wagner

'War' scheduled for prod'n in 2003

Paramount Pictures will partner with Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner’s Cruise/Wagner Prods. on a new feature version of H.G. Wells’ classic Martian invasion tale “The War of the Worlds.”

Cruise and Wagner will produce, and the studio is hoping the former will topline the pic, scheduled for production in 2003.

Teaming continues Cruise/Wagner’s high-profile collaborations with the studio, including the billion-dollar “Mission: Impossible” franchise as well as the recent thriller “Vanilla Sky.”

” ‘The War of the Worlds’ is a timeless literary treasure and one of our most exciting properties,” said Sherry Lansing, chair of Paramount Pictures Motion Picture Group. “Since Paramount has enjoyed such tremendous success partnering with Cruise/Wagner, there is clearly no better team to entrust this to.”

“Tom and I have had an extraordinary relationship with Paramount,” Wagner said. “We are delighted to join the studio in producing this thrilling classic.”

Wells’ sci-fi novel was first published in 1898. Depicting a global, seemingly unstoppable Martian attack on Earth, book was adapted and performed to sound like a live news broadcast by Orson Welles, whose Mercury Theater aired the now-legendary radio play the day before Halloween in 1938. Broadcast to millions of Americans, the show was so convincing, it caused a nationwide panic, quelled only after the news media reported the truth.