WB, Par share on ‘Zodiac’

Fincher in talks on killer movie

The serial-killer genre has struck again, this time at Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures.

The studios are in advanced negotiations to co-finance “Zodiac,” a thriller detailing the obsessive efforts of three people who sought to bring the famed Zodiac killer to justice and the toll it took on their personal lives.

David Fincher is in negotiations to helm the pic.

Deal would reunite Warners, Par and Fincher once again. The trio had recently coalesced around “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” but that pic evaporated after the studios declined to spend more than $150 million on the f/x-heavy tale.

Phoenix Pictures is producing “Zodiac,” adapted by scribe Jamie Vanderbilt (“Basic”) from Robert Graysmith’s 1986 true-crime tome “Zodiac” and its 2002 sequel, “Zodiac Unmasked: The Identity of America’s Most Elusive Serial Killer Revealed.” Graysmith’s first book has sold more than 4 million copies.

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Fincher and his partner Cean Chaffin would produce the pic along with Vanderbilt and Phoenix principals Mike Medavoy, Arnold Messer and Brad Fischer.

Warner will take the lead on producing; Par will handle domestic distribution while Warner will handle international. Lynn Harris and Greg Silverman will oversee for Warners.

The Zodiac killer has inspired pics such as “Dirty Harry” and the 1971 B movie “The Zodiac Killer.”

Graysmith’s books trace the mystery of the serial killer who terrorized the San Francisco area from 1966-78. The killer committed at least 37 murders and documented his exploits in taunting letters sent to the San Francisco Chronicle.

In 1968, Graysmith was an editorial cartoonist at the Chronicle, and the letters inspired him to begin his own investigation. He believes he identified the killer, but competing investigations and other circumstances meant the suspect, who died in 1992, was never apprehended.

(Cathy Dunkley contributed to this report.)