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New Line wins Gears of War film rights

by Saleem Khan, CBC News Online

It may not be the most popular Xbox 360 game but Gears of War has just been picked up by New Line Cinema for development as a feature film due to hit theatres in 2009, according to Variety.

Variety reports the script is being written by Stuart Beattie, who wrote Collateral, which featured Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx. A director will be chosen once the script is complete.

The film is to be produced by Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey. Godfrey is the executive responsible for the fantasy tale Eragon, the 2004 remake of Flight of the Phoenix that starred Dennis Quaid, the Will Smith vehicle I, Robot, and AVP: Alien vs. Predator.

It's the realization of a strategy for Aurora, Ont.-native Mark Rein, vice president of video game studio Epic Games, which created Gears of War and the technology it runs on, the Unreal Engine 3.

Epic kept all ancillary rights to Gears of War when it agreed to produce the game as an Xbox 360 exclusive.

"We wanted to make an entertainment property that's not just for games but for other media," said Epic VP and co-founder Mark Rein.

"I'm not a gamer but what blew me away about 'Gears' was how it captures the mythology of a war mission and how high the stakes are," Godfrey told Daily Variety.

Cliff "CliffyB" Bleszinski, the game's lead designer, will be an executive producer on the movie.

It's a moral victory for Microsoft, whose own Halo movie saw production stopped after Universal and Fox balked at co-financing the film, whose projected cost reportedly exceeded $135 million US. Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson was to be executive producer and Vancouverite Neill Blomkamp (a 3-D animator on3000 Miles to Graceland, Smallville and Dark Angel) was to direct.

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