In his first starring role developed by his Plan B Films, Brad Pitt is going to play gunslinger Jesse James in a period Western that will be directed by “Chopper” helmer Andrew Dominik.

Negotiations are in progress for Pitt to carve out a slot this year for the oater based on the Robert Hansen novel “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.”

The book was optioned last year as a co-production between Scott Free partners Ridley and Tony Scott, and Plan B, the Warner Bros.-based shingle that was run by Pitt, Brad Grey and Jennifer Aniston. The future of Plan B has been the subject of continuing speculation since, in the span of about a week, Grey exited to take the top job at Paramount Pictures, and Pitt and Aniston separated as a married couple.

The book was bought by Warner last year (Daily Variety, March 17), and set up as a potential pairing of Pitt and Dominik, the Australian commercial and musicvideo director who helmed Eric Bana’s breakthrough performance in “Chopper.”

Ford joined James’ gang as a neophyte gunslinger who soon became resentful about all the attention paid to the man known as the fastest gun in the West. Ford figured to cement his rep by killing James, but after shooting his idol in the back, he was forever branded a coward.

Warner’s Kevin McCormick is steering the pic. The studio hasn’t yet chosen an actor for the Ford role.