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Askarieh takes up ‘Cause’

Producer lands bigscreen rights to vidgame

The Scorpion is being prepped for his first mission at the megaplex.

Adrian Askarieh, who successfully paired up with Eidos Interactive to set up the actioners “Hitman” at Fox and “Kane and Lynch” at Lionsgate, has landed the rights to adapt the videogame publisher’s high-profile title “Just Cause” for the bigscreen.

“Just Cause” revolves around missions carried out by a deadly CIA black ops assassin code-named the Scorpion, who specializes in regime changes while battling pirates, mercenaries and rogue agents. The character has become iconic for his high-tech grappling hook and his penchant for BASE-jumping from high altitudes while in action.

Developers have described the Scorpion as a mix of Jason Bourne, James Bond, Wolverine and Rambo, with a touch of Enrique Iglesias.

As many producers in Hollywood are focusing on bigscreen versions of comicbooks, Askarieh has proved a prolific producer of vidgame adaptations. Before the Eidos titles, Askarieh had been working on a movie based on Midway’s “Spy Hunter” franchise.

Naturally, Askarieh isn’t dismissing comicbooks. He is a producer, along with Daniel Alter and Alexandra Milchan, on “Hack/Slash,” Rogue’s adaptation of the horror graphic novel from Devil’s Due Publishing.

Eidos is no stranger to Hollywood, having already produced two pics based on its “Tomb Raider” franchise. It’s looking to reboot the property with Warner Bros.-based producer Dan Lin.

The game maker released the first “Just Cause” in 2006, and it’s readying a sequel, with next year’s bow heavily hyped at the E3 gaming confab in Los Angeles in June. The sequel is considered one of the higher-profile games set to hit retailers next spring. First installment has sold more than 1 million copies.

The first game had the Scorpion help overthrow the dictator of a fictional Caribbean tropical island who possessed weapons of mass destruction. Game’s title stems from the real-life U.S. invasion of Panama, code-named “Operation Just Cause,” to overthrow Manuel Noriega.

Askarieh is looking to produce “Just Cause” independently and has been working with Creative Artists Agency to package the property and put together roughly $30 million in independent financing for the pic.

It has not yet been submitted to a studio.

“Hitman” was a “very successful movie for Fox, and I wanted to find a similar project in terms of its genre, international appeal and ability to do for a price, but do it independently in order to maximize the creative and financial upside that a project like this could generate,” Askarieh told Daily Variety.

“Hitman,” which starred Timothy Olyphant, earned $100 million at the worldwide box office and made a killing on DVD. A sequel is in development, with Kyle Ward penning the script. “Kane and Lynch” is set to start shooting next year.

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