Variety reported today that Warner Bros. Pictures has tapped Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot, Air Force One) to direct Batman vs. Superman, which Warners envisions as the studio's tentpole picture for the summer of 2004.  Andrew Kevin Walker (Seven) has written the screenplay, which Petersen describes as '...a clash of the titans, who play off each other so perfectly.  Superman is clear, bright, all that is noble and good, and Batman represents the dark, obsessive and vengeful side.'  Petersen has not yet chosen actors for the principal roles, but he did indicate that he was looking for serious actors who can convey complex emotions, and he specifically praised Tobey Maguire's work in Spider-Man and Matt Damon's action turn in The Bourne Identity, so don't be surprised if the actors chosen to portray Man of Steel and the Dark Knight have more acting chops than biceps.  Filming should start in early 2003.


Warner Brothers President of Worldwide Production, Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, told Variety: 'Batman vs. Superman will carry forward the Warner Bros. superhero tradition,' and that the studio '...looked forward to starting this project as soon as possible.'  Warner Bros. began the cycle of superhero blockbuster films with its Superman films and then struck gold with Tim Burton's Batman in 1989.  But the last few Batman films were critical and box office disappointments and in 1998 Warners pulled the plug on Superman Lives after the studio had spent an enormous amount on scripts and pre-production.  With Marvel working with New Line, Fox and Sony to establish three movie franchises (Blade, The X-Men, and Spider-Man) in the interim, it was only a matter of time before Warners returned to the genre it created.  In addition to Batman vs. Superman, Warners continues to develop a Superman film with J.J. Abrams (Alias) writing as well as Batman: Year One with director Darren Aronofsky.


A new round of superhero films should help Warner Bros. licensing revenue, and the studio announced a new agreement giving the rights to action figures, vehicles, toys, and games from the new films to Mattel (see 'Mattel Snags DC/Warner Toy License').