Helmer fit for Fox’s ‘Mitty’

Verbinski to direct update of 1947 classic film

Twentieth Century Fox is aggressively moving ahead with the long-gestating update of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” inking a deal with Gore Verbinski to direct the update of the 1947 classic film.

Verbinski is one of Hollywood’s most sought-after directors, having turned Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” into one of the top franchises of all time.

Steve Conrad (“The Pursuit of Happyness”) is working on the script for Verbinski and the studio.

Insiders say Verbinski could begin lensing “Walter Mitty” as early as spring. Studio is currently casting.

This spring, there was speculation that Sacha Baron Cohen was circling to star, but he’s reportedly no longer involved with the project.

“Walter Mitty” is based on James Thurber’s classic 1947 short story about a day-dreaming book editor who can’t seem to do anything right, so imagines all sorts exciting lives for himself. The 1947 film, starring Danny Kaye, was described as a loose adaptation.

Samuel Goldwyn Jr., whose father produced the 1947 film, has been trying to mount a remake since the mid-1990s. He’s producing with his son, John Goldwyn. Fox picked up the project in the last several years from Paramount. Before Par, “Walter Mitty” was at New Line.

A raft of top directors have been connected to the remake through the years, including Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Chuck Russell. Drafts have been developed by scribes such as Russell, Peter Tolan and the team of Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel. Actors who have circled the film include Jim Carrey and Owen Wilson.

Verbinski’s next in theaters with Johnny Depp-voiced toon “Rango,” which Paramount opens domestically March 4, 2011. Par’s Nick Films and GK Films produced “Rango.”

Verbinski is repped by CAA.

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