Columbia flies with ‘Green Hornet’

Studio options rights to crimefighter

After years of buzzing around development circles and different studios, “The Green Hornet” is finally on its way to the bigscreen.

Columbia Pictures, gearing up for the May 4 debut of its “Spider-Man 3,” has optioned rights to the property, with Neal H. Moritz and his Original Film banner to produce the feature adaptation.

The Green Hornet” follows the adventures of Brit Reid, a millionaire publisher who moonlights as a masked crime fighter. It started as a radio serial hatched by “Lone Ranger” creators Fran Striker and George Trendle in 1936 — traveling to comicbook, film and TV by the 1960s — but recent attempts to develop it for the bigscreen hadn’t panned out.

The property had been in development at Universal and Miramax, with Kevin Smith developing it for the latter studio a few years ago (Daily Variety, Feb. 18, 2004). Moritz obtained the film rights and optioned them to Sony, where he’s based.

George Clooney was at one time attached but opted out to star in “The Peacemaker.” Mark Wahlberg, Jake Gyllenhaal and Jet Li also were rumored to have been involved at one time or another.

Moritz said he’s been a fan of “The Green Hornet” since seeing the ’60s live-action TV series that starred Van Williams and Bruce Lee, and he’s been trying to get the rights for years.

Moritz expects to get the project out to writers in the next few weeks.

Moritz recently produced “Gridiron Gang,” “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” and “Click.” Upcoming pics include “Vantage Point,” “Evan Almighty,” “I Am Legend” and “Maid of Honor.”