Paramount Pictures has confirmed that Stephen Sommers (Van Helsing, The Mummy Returns, The Mummy) will direct G.I. Joe, the live-action feature based on Hasbro’s line of action figures.
IESB.net, meanwhile, says the studio has also hired Stuart Beattie (30 Days of Night, Collateral, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) to write the new script.
A February production start is planned for a summer 2009 release.
Variety says the accelerated production schedule began right after Sommers pitched his version of the film to Paramount chairman-CEO Brad Grey and production president Brad Weston on Wednesday evening. He was hired in the room.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura will produce with Hasbro chief operating officer Brian Goldner. Sommers and his Sommers Co. partner Bob Ducsay will also be involved as producers.
Hasbro’s Goldner said that the mythology of G.I Joe was fleshed out during the 1980s through 155 issues of Marvel Comics, as well as an animated TV series. There are about 30 core characters, good and evil, that can be exploited in films.
“Marrying Steve’s vision with 25 years of this brand mythology feels like a great way to go forward,” Goldner said.
“Our vision (for ‘The Mummy’) was clear the time the first trailer played during the Super Bowl, and by the time this one plays a Super Bowl, you’ll see the coolest characters and visuals you can imagine, and beyond-state-of-the-art equipment,” Sommers said. “I wouldn’t have jumped into this just because of the Hasbro-Transformers tie. Remember, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean was a big hit, but ‘Haunted Mansion’ not so much.”
“My experience with beloved properties is that characters, attitude and tone are even more important than plot,” di Bonaventura said. “Paramount showed a great deal of confidence in Stephen’s take, and our ability as producers to get this up and running for a February start. His passion for the characters and the world convinced the studio this was something they couldn’t resist.”