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WB hatches dual species

Studio preps simultaneous pic, vidgame

Warner Bros. has set “The Shield” co-executive producer Kurt Sutter to write “Species X,” a drama about a police detective who realizes he might be from another world.

WB Interactive Entertainment will simultaneously develop videogame “The Condemned: Criminal Origins” based on the concept. It is an unusual occurrence, since movies and vidgames usually cross-pollinate when one is a hit and the other is little more than an adaptation.

“Species X,” which will be produced by Basil Iwanyk and David Goyer, was hatched by Jason Hall and Nathan Hendrickson. Hall is an established gamer who runs WBIE, the only vidgame publisher owned by a film studio.

Hall wanted to try something different. “We wanted to come up with something specifically designed to use multiple mediums to tell stories that had some continuity and connective thread,” he said.

“One medium usually handicaps the other, because if you hadn’t thought of the movie when you did the game, you’d limit creative expression or completely depart from the game, and risk losing your core game audience. …We wanted to create a universe that, like a ‘Star Wars,’ was big enough where different stories could exist.”

Exec hopes to introduce the concept with the vidgame, followed by a movie that will come out at the same time as a sequel game that expands the universe.

It’s a shift for WB Interactive, which has previously made games based on existing studio properties. Its first self-funded title, “The Matrix Online,” did poorly and was recently sold to Sony Online Entertainment.

Hall created a 20-page bible that Iwanyk, Goyer and WB exec Lynn Harris used to hook Sutter, who penned “In-Crime,” a drama that’s likely to get made next year at WB.

“I’m a big gamer, one who feels that, in the last five years, some of the smartest and most innovative ideas have come out of the gaming world,” Sutter said.

In the course of a murder investigation, the protagonist cop has reason to question who he is as a man, until he realizes he’s not a man. A tug-of-war emerges among a faction of good and evil aliens.

“It’s got touches of ‘Terminator’ and ‘Highlander,’ and it is hatched from the same egg as the videogame,” Iwanyk said. “It’s an experiment that, if successful, could be a tentpole title and a great thing for the studio.”

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