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"Tonight, He Comes" has a director


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Columbia Pictures has set Peter Berg to direct "Tonight, He Comes," the long-gestating film that will star Will Smith as a superhero in existential crisis.

Pic begins shooting in May for a summer 2008 release. Akiva Goldsman, Michael Mann, James Lassiter and Smith produce.

Berg is the third helmer to join the project, but the producers feel he'll be the one to bring the project to fruition after Jonathan Mostow and Gabriele Muccino ankled previously over creative differences.

Berg's emergence puts the pieces in place for a project that's morphed in a 10-year development cycle from a quirky Vincent Ngo script to one scribe Vince Gilligan has recrafted into a potential summer tentpole.

The quartet of producers have supervised myriad Gilligan rewrites that accentuated the superhero's love affair with a married housewife. That has turned the latter role into one coveted by actresses. Charlize Theron is the favorite to take the job.

Berg's name surfaced two weeks ago, but his deal took time as Sony labored to keep a fiscal rein on a film that will have as many visual effects as any superhero movie but a storyline that's far less predictable. Smith's character is a drinking, smoking womanizer whose lifestyle is closer to rock star than do-gooder. The public is as sick of him as he is of them, until he finds a special connection with the married housewife.

Most of the producers have past dealings with Berg and each other. Berg just directed Jamie Foxx starrer "The Kingdom," which Mann produced with Scott Stuber for Universal, and Mann cast Berg in "Collateral." Mann, who was originally hired to direct "Tonight, He Comes" when the project was at Artisan, directed Smith in "Ali" and produced that film with Lassiter. Goldsman, who's producing Smith starrer "I Am Legend," also produced "I, Robot" with the star and did uncredited script work for Berg on "The Rundown."

They will invite Berg into their circle, further honing the script while "I Am Legend" shoots in New York until March. They will jump right into "Tonight, He Comes," which will be set in Los Angeles.

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