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DEC
2
3 YEARS

Fox Prepares to Take a Swing at 'The Three Stooges'

The studio is taking over the long-gestating project from MGM, with Peter and Bobby Farrelly still on board to direct.

Three Stooges
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

With MGM in the final stretch of its Chapter 11 reorganization, The Three Stooges, one of the longest-gestating high-profile projects in Hollywood, is in the process of finding a new home at Fox.

The extraction from debt-riddled MGM is in the midst of final dealmaking, but upon completion Stooges will land at Fox with the long-involved Farrelly Brothers behind the camera. The cast that had been slapped together for the movie while it was at MGM -- Sean Penn as Larry, Jim Carrey as Curly and Benicio del Toro as Moe -- is likely to morph into a new configuration, although that too is being figured out.

A March 14 start date is being eyed.

For Peter and Bobby Farrelly, taking the project to Fox would be a homecoming, since the brothers have made most of their movies for the studio. (New Line is releasing their latest comedy, Hall Pass, next year.)

Stooges is not a biopic but a fictional treatment that maintains the Stooges’ gleeful slap schtick updated for a modern milieu. It has been a passion project for the Farrellys, who have been involved with it since C3 Entertainment Inc., the keeper of the Stooges brand, sold the feature rights to Warner Bros. in March 2001 for them to write and produce.

Early on, the project was originally set up at Columbia, which had produced the classic 1930s Stooges shorts. Eventually, Warner Bros. let the rights lapse and MGM’s Mary Parent scooped them up along with the Farrellys’ continuing participation. The movie was on the runway to go before cameras when first Penn took a self-imposed break from acting and then MGM’s financial woes whacked the whole project off track.