EXCLUSIVE: Furthering its commitment to co-finance action films from Luc Besson‘s EuropaCorp, Relativity Media has signed on to co-finance and be domestic distributor for Brick Mansions, the American-ized remake of the Paris-set Banlieue 13. The film will star Paul Walker, and it will be directed by Camille Delamarre, a protege of Besson. Besson, who co-wrote the original, scripted the remake with his Taken collaborator Robert Mark Kamen. Walker will star with David Belle, who starred in the original and the sequel District 13: Ultimatum. He is also the guy credited with creating Parkour, a sport that involves agility and leaping and climbing around obstacles. There will be plenty of that in these films.
The film will be set in America. Walker will play an undercover detective chasing a weapon of mass destruction that was stolen by a drug dealer in the ghetto known as Brick Mansions. He seeks help from the incredibly agile Lino (Belle), who knows Brick Mansions better than anyone and is the only person not cowed by the drug dealers. Besson’s Europa Corp is producing along with Ryan Kavanaugh, Tucker Tooley and the Relativity team. While a number of Hollywood actors wanted the Lino role, Besson would not make the movie unless Belle was in it.
Walker now finds himself positioned to be a centerpiece in three action film franchises with the Relativity Media deal. He continues to play Brian O’Conner in Fast & Furious 6, and he recently signed on to play the title role in Hitman, a rebooted adaptation of the top selling video game.
The original Banlieue 13 was directed by Pierre Morel, who went on to direct Besson’s Taken and From Paris With Love. Besson is giving this directing job to another protégé in Delamarre, who has been editor on Besson action films including Taken 2 and Colombiana.
This makes the third EuropaCorp-generated collaboration with Relativity. Besson directed Malavita, the crime drama that stars Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones, about a mob family relocated to Normandy in the Witness Protection program. It’s Besson’s first time behind the camera since helming Michelle Yeoh as Burmese democracy reformist Aung San Suu Kyi in The Lady. The film got its first private screening the other day. Relativity is also aboard Three Days To Kill, the action thriller that stars Kevin Costner and is currently in production.
Walker is repped by UTA and Luber Rocklin. Here is a trailer from the sequel that captures the acrobatics and action that distinguished both films: