Channing Tatum attached to 'Ion'

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You can thank "Avatar" for Hollywood's resurgent interest in sci-fi.

Right now Fox, through its label Fox 2000, is getting ready to bet on sci-fi again and is the lead contender to pick up an original spec script by Will Dunn titled "Ion," which is generating interest from several studios.

Channing Tatum is attached to star in what is labeled a sci-fi romantic epic, with Ridley and Tony Scott attached to produce.

The plot revolves around a man who travels to different Earths and dimensions in order to find his reincarnated lover. Execs are using the magic word -- "Avatar" -- to describe the scope and otherworldly elements of the script.

"Ion" actually made the rounds last year but didn't take. In the post-"Avatar" Hollywood, however, the script is generating renewed interest. It attracted the interest of the Scott brothers, who helped develop the script further, which then brought in Tatum, who could be one of Hollywood's next leading men. The whole package raised the mercury even higher.

Dunn is a British writer living in Los Angeles. His first script, "Children of the Gun," didn't sell but execs at Scott Free liked it and sat down with Dunn. Soon he netted representation at WME and the Safran Co.

But credit "Avatar," with its record-breaking $2.7 billion worldwide take and envelope-pushing technology, as well as the strong critical and commercial showing of last year's "Star Trek" and "District 9," for opening the door for sci-fi projects like never before.

Since "Avatar" introduced the Navi'i to Hollywood, a slew of projects have been set up. Among them:

"All You Need is Kill" - Warners plunked seven figures for Dante Harper-scripted adaptation of a Japanese novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. The story follows a new recruit in a war against aliens who finds himself caught in a time loop where he wakes up one day in the past after having been killed on the battlefield. Doug Liman is now circling to direct the movie.

"Mass Effect" - In May, Legendary picked up the rights to the the Electronic Arts-BioWare video game. Mark Protosevich, the scribe who wrote "I Am Legend" and worked on "Thor," is writing the script. "Mass" is an epic sci-fi action game set in the year 2183, focusing on a human soldier and his starship, the SSV Normandy. The galaxy-spanning story involves a long-extinct race of aliens, dormant beacons and more alien species than you can shake a box of Unobtanium at.

"Pacific Rim" - Also in May, Legendary picked up a 25-page treatment from "Clash of the Titans" scribe Travis Beacham. The story is reportedly set in a future in which malevolent creatures threaten the earth, and the planet must band together and use highly advanced technology to eradicate the growing menace.

"Logan's Run" - The title had been at Warners for years, but is benefiting from the sci-fi wave. Carl Rinsch is now on board to direct and "28 Days Later..." writer Alex Garland penning the script.

While some are based on pre-existing material, many are original. In fact, many execs and lit reps are happily surprised that a welcome mat seems to unrolling for new ideas.
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