‘Superman’ seeking new helmer of steel

WB, McG unable to agree over location, budget matters

Warner Bros.’ star-crossed “Superman” franchise is once again looking for a director. McG, who was prepping the tentpole for a late 2004 start, is now off the project.

Warner Bros. and McG — the second director to abandon the project after Brett Ratner — were unable to reach an agreement over location and budget matters. McG hoped to shoot “Superman” in North America. Warners is reportedly already building sets at Australia’s Fox studios. Shooting outside the U.S. could save the studio tens of millions in production costs.

“When I flew to New York to scout,” McG said in a statement, “I became enamored with our greatest American city. It was clear to me that this was Metropolis. As a filmmaker, I felt it was inappropriate to try to capture the heart of America on another continent. I look at Superman as a character that embodies all that is beautiful about America.”

Last month, “Superman” appeared to have new momentum. Warners brought on producers Neil Moritz and Gilbert Adler. McG was testing actors and storyboarding the script by J.J. Abrams; the Man of Steel has still not been cast.

The resignation of McG may clear a path for Michael Bay. There’s long been speculation that the director of “Armageddon” and “Bad Boys 2” would make “Superman” his next tentpole, but reps for Warners and Bay have denied it.

It’s not clear what McG’s next project will be. He’s developing “Evel Knievel” at Universal and “Cleopatra” and “Hot Wheels” at Sony.

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