‘Crank’ Helmers Teaming with Nic Cage for ‘Ghost Rider 2’

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Heat Vision is reporting Crank franchise writer-director duo Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor are in early negotiations to direct Columbia’s Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance with Nicolas Cage in early negotiations to return as Johnny Blaze. Cage starred in the 2007 original, which was pretty much blasted by critics and audiences alike on its way to a $115 million domestic tally and an additional $112 million from foreign markets.

The story centered on Blaze, a stunt cyclist that sells his soul to Mephistopheles in order to save the life of a loved one causing his soul to become tied up with Mephistopheles to where at night he becomes his servant as a flaming-skulled man driving a motorcycle from hell. As for where Ghost Rider 2 will take things, that’s being kept quiet… sort of.

Apparently David Goyer wrote the current draft of the screenplay and Neveldine and Taylor may take a stab at a rewrite. Along with Crank
and its sequel, Neveldine and Taylor are also responsible for Gamer and penned Jonah Hex which opens this weekend.

In 2008 Cage told Coming Soon they were considering taking the character to Europe, “We talked about going international with that character. Taking him into Europe, having him go on a motorcycle tour through Europe, and he’s connected with the church, if you can believe that. So it sort of has elements to it that are very much in the zeitgeist, with The Da Vinci Code and things like that.”

The story Cage is talking about ties into a nine-year-old script written by Goyer in which he discussed with Collider in 2009. “I wrote a script about nine years ago, and Sony and the producers decided that they wanted to make that as the sequel. So… I’m coming on as a producer, and we’re basically doing a polish of my nine-year old scipt. So there’s not as much work involved. It was definitely written as a hard-R… It was a Blade-type film. Now they want it to be PG-13.”

Goyer’s script and the one Cage was talking about do mesh when you take into account comments made by producer Mike De Luca back in January when speaking to Collider once again when he said they were looking at the film as a reboot saying it would be like “pushing the reset button” and that it would take place in Europe. Of course, 3D was also mentioned. De Luca also not only revealed the title of the film would be Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance at that time, but also said neither Eva Mendes or original director Mark Steven Johnson would be returning.

Photo: Columbia Pictures

As far as the story direction at that time, De Luca said:

Yeah, the idea was because Ghost Rider is a unique blend of theology and action and the character deals with the kind of battle of good vs. evil in a theological sense, that Europe you could avail yourself of a lot of religious sites and kind ancient religious site and a history of theology as a setting that isn’t available in the U.S. We wanted to kind of signal that we’re as different from the first movie just because we want to be fresh and new as you can get in terms of getting away from southwestern kind of pseudo-western thing.

Vulture recently added word Scott Gimple and Seth Hoffman (“Flash Forward”) helped Goyer with the fleshing out of his script while at the same time saying Cage’s shooting schedule with National Treasure 3 may conflict with a new Ghost Rider film, which may be the reason he’s only mentioned as being in “early negotiations.”

If you’re wondering why this film is even still moving along, Columbia has until November 14, 2010 to get a sequel into production or the rights revert right back to Marvel and into Disney’s lap.