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Shingles square off on Capote pix

UA just began production; WIP has set Jan. 5 start date

Studio-based specialty houses Warner Independent Pictures and United Artists are on a collision course over rival films focusing on the bond author Truman Capote developed with murderer Perry Smith and the writing of Capote’s seminal crime chronicle “In Cold Blood.”

UA just began production on its untitled feature, an adaptation of the Gerald Clarke book “Capote: A Biography” that stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as Capote and Clifton Collins Jr. as Smith, along with Chris Cooper, Catherine Keener and Bob Balaban. Bennett Miller is directing from Dan Futterman’s script; Baron Pictures and Infinity Media are producing.

WIP has set a Jan. 5 start date and set foreign sales company Arclight to make deals for “Every Word Is True,” a film written and to be directed by Doug McGrath (“Emma”). Toby Jones is playing Capote and Mark Ruffalo has just been set to play Smith. Also cast are Jeremy Renner, Ashley Judd, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Cumming, along with the previously announced Sandra Bullock and Gwyneth Paltrow. Pic is being produced by Killer Films and exec produced by John Wells.

The producers of each film have been rattling sabers for months, announcing tentative casts and then replacing the pieces when some dropped out. WIP scored a coup by getting Ruffalo to replace Mark Wahlberg, who briefly flirted with the role of Smith, one of the two men who robbed and murdered a family of four in a rural Kansas town in a crime that shocked the country.

Smith developed an intense and complex bond with Capote, who had traveled with his boyhood pal Harper Lee to Kansas to explore the effects of a gruesome unsolved crime on a small town. Capote got the break of his career when he gained access to the killers, which formed the basis for his groundbreaking nonfiction novel “In Cold Blood.”

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