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EA’s ‘Army of Two’ joins Universal

Scott Z. Burns to write script

Universal Pictures has acquired screen rights to the Electronic Arts videogame “Army of Two.” The studio is looking to fast-track the project to begin production in 2009 and has set “The Bourne Ultimatum” co-writer Scott Z. Burns to write the script.

Scott Stuber will produce with EA, marking the first time the vidgame giant has taken a film production role.

The “Army of Two” vidgame has sold more than 2 million units since it launched in March. A sequel is believed to be in the works. Game is a two-player action contest in which a pair of private military contractors fight their way through a web of intrigue.

“Because people experience the game in pairs, playing two guys who go against the world, Scott and I agreed this format presented an opportunity to make a great buddy film,” Burns said. “The ambiguity of these private military corporations lends weight to an intelligent thriller with relevance to what’s going on in the world right now. You have contractors with their own agendas, and two guys whose friendship supersedes all the politics. I told EA right off the bat I wasn’t a gamer, and that appealed to them because they didn’t want to simply replicate the game.”

It’s the third EA project to go the film route recently. “The Sims” is being developed at 20th Century Fox with producer John Davis, while sci-fi game “Mass Effect” has been optioned by Avi Arad Prods. It’s another big game title for Universal, which acquired “BioShock” for a film that Gore Verbinski will direct.

Burns most recently scripted the Steven Soderbergh-directed “The Informant” and is producing with Lorenzo di Bonaventura a Peter Landesman-scripted drama about the rescue of 15 Colombian hostages for Warner Bros. He was also a producer of the docu “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Stuber produced for U the upcoming releases “Role Models,” “The Wolfman,” “Traveling” and “Repossession Mambo,” and he’s about to begin production on “Couples Retreat” with Vince Vaughn. Stuber’s also teamed with Guillermo del Toro on “Frankenstein,” Christopher Nolan on “The Prisoner” and Timur Bekmambetov on “Moby Dick.”