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Helmer’s on Universal’s ‘Wanted’ list

'Night' guy Bekmambetov on deck for U pic

Timur Bekmambetov, whose sci-fi actioner “Night Watch” was a Russian box office sensation, has inked his first deal to helm an English-lingo pic, Universal’s “Wanted.”

“Wanted” is based on a comicbook series by Mark Millar. Marc Platt set up the series with U last year and will produce with Jason Netter and Jim Lemley, with Marc Silvestri exec producing.

“Night Watch” grossed more than $15 million in Russia and sold an unprecedented 600,000 DVDs in the piracy-plagued territory. Totals were in excess of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, including “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” and “Spider-Man 2.”

With its dark tone, “Wanted” is in a similar mold as “Night Watch.” Protag is a nebbishy white-collar worker who discovers his father is the world’s most evil supervillain. After his dad is murdered, the son is recruited into a covert org and trained to take up his father’s legacy.

Script was penned by Derek Haas and Michael Brandt. Duo also wrote U’s “2 Fast 2 Furious” and are currently at work adapting Tom Clancy’s “Red Rabbit” for Paramount.

Bekmambetov, who made his name in commercial and video work before “Night Watch,” is currently in post-production on prequel “Day Watch” for 20th Century Fox, which snagged foreign rights to the franchise.

“Day Watch” is expected to be released in Russia early next year. Fox Searchlight will release “Night Watch” in the U.S. around the same time.

Overseeing “Wanted” for U are production prexy Donna Langley and veep Jeff Kirschenbaum.

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