Thesp pack howling for ‘Beowulf’

Zemeckis using 'Polar' performance capture tech on pic

Columbia Pictures is negotiating with Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Brendan Gleeson and Robin Wright Penn to star in director Robert Zemeckis’ “Beowulf.”

The performance capture film, based on the Old English epic poem about a knight who slays a monster and becomes king, is being financed by Steve Bing’s Shangri-La Entertainment.

Winstone and his co-stars would be committing to a process that is more like a regular movie than the voiceover work commonly done for 3-D animated films.

In a process pioneered in the Zemeckis-directed “The Polar Express” and the recently completed summer 2006 release “Monster House,” the actors perform their roles, which get processed through a computerized motion capture animation process.

Pic was scripted by Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman, with Zemeckis and his ImageMovers partners Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke producing. Martin Shafer exec produces with the scribes.

Winstone will also be starring in the Anthony Minghella-directed “Breaking and Entering” and Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed.”

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