EXCLUSIVE: With the "Twilight" franchise coming to an end next year, Summit Entertainment has been eager to get a new genre franchise going. They may be closing in on one with "The Last Witch Hunter," about a man who hunts warlocks and witches in a bid to prevent them from multiplying.
The studio has been meeting with directors for the film, with "The Crazies" director Breck Eisner poised to land the job, said two people who were briefed on the project but were not authorized to speak publicly about it. No formal deal has been reached yet, however. Eisner has also been attached to new versions of "Flash Gordon" and "Escape From New York."
Timur Bekmambetov was originally negotiating to produce and direct "Witch Hunter," which is based on Cory Goodman's original script, but that deal was never made. A Summit spokesman declined to comment.
The script landed on the 2010 edition of the Black List, a rundown of top screenplays in Hollywood. The story centers on disparate covens of witches who have joined forces, leaving the protagonist to fight a force much larger than him to ensure the safety of mankind.
Vin Diesel has expressed interest in the lead role, said a person close to the production, but casting choices are still a ways off.
When we interviewed Goodman -- who also wrote the coming vampire movie "Priest" -- last year, he said he believed that witch archetypes were ripe for exploration. "Witches feel like a more open avenue" than other villains or heroes," he said. "And the more I started researching them, the more I found how universal they are, with every society offering their own version of them."
"Witch Hunter" would move Summit to new terrain after the second edition of "Breaking Dawn" winds down the five-picture "Twilight" series next year, although that franchise of course had the advantage of being based on a popular book series. The studio will also have to contend with "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunter," a Will Ferrell-produced project in the same genre that's already begun shooting.
Photo: The "Twilight Saga: Eclipse" poster. Credit: Summit Entertainment