MGM is in advanced negotiations to acquire all U.S. rights to Rob Schneider’s directorial debut “Big Stan” from Crystal Sky Pictures.

“Big Stan,” which shot last year, stars Schneider as a geeky conman who gets sentenced to a prison stretch. Terrified of being raped, he enlists the aid of a martial arts guru (David Carradine) to teach him kung fu. When he goes inside, his newfound skills result in his becoming an unlikely hero, as he outsmarts the warring prison gangs.

Pic was produced by Rob Schneider, John Schneider and Mark Dippe, and exec produced by Steven Paul and Benedict Carver of Crystal Sky plus Ash Shah. Script is by Josh Lieb.

MGM is understood to have made a substantial P&A commitment, and is planning to give the movie a wide December release. As well as appealing to Schneider’s existing audience, the studio hopes to tap into the huge personal fanbase of Ultimate Fighting champ Randy Couture, who co-stars in the movie. Crystal Sky bankrolled the movie through foreign pre-sales and gap finance. At the time of production, Schneider was coming off the disappointment of “Deuce Bigalow 2” and thus his name didn’t attract much heat from U.S. buyers. Since then, however, he has had a heathly comeback hit with “The Benchwarmers,” which grossed $60 million Stateside via Sony.

“Big Stan,” which is screened in the Cannes market, has been pre-sold in Canada, the U.K. and Spain, Australia and Germany. Pic is available in France, Italy and most of Asia.

Crystal Sky initially pre-sold U.S. video rights to HBO, but is negotiating to reclaim these rights in order to close the deal with MGM.