'Dragonball' movie set to roll

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Twentieth Century Fox is finally moving forward with a live-action adaptation of the hugely popular manga "Dragonball," casting the stars of the movie and setting a release date of next summer.

Justin Chatwin is starring as the hero while James Marsters will play the villain in the sci-fi adventure, which will be directed by James Wong. The movie has been penciled in for a worldwide release date of Aug. 15, 2008. Stephen Chow, the filmmaker behind "Kung Fu Hustle" and "Shaolin Soccer," is producing.

"Dragonball" is one of the most successful Japanese cultural exports of all time. The manga, created by Akira Toriyama and published by Tokyo's Jump Comics, was adapted into graphic novels, video games and a phenomenally successful television series that ran in Europe, Asia, Latin America and North America. "Dragonball's" popularity also generated more than $4 billion in merchandising sales. In North America, the property achieved the zenith of its popularity under the name "Dragonball Z."

The story follows an adult humanoid alien named Goku, who discovers that he was sent to Earth to blend in and destroy our population but instead elects to protect it from an oncoming alien onslaught bent on dominating the universe and controlling the mystical objects from which the film takes its name.

Chatwin, who will play Goku, has already begun training under the auspices of stunt performance company 87Eleven, which has executed and designed action pieces in pictures such as "The Matrix," "The Bourne Supremacy," "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" and "300." Marsters is playing the villainous Piccolo.

Wong rewrote the previous draft by Ben Ramsey.

Production begins later this year. Other major roles are currently being cast.

Chatwin, repped by WMA, is best known for his playing Tom Cruise's on in Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds."

Marsters is best known for his role as vampire Spike on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" Piccolo. He is repped by the Kohner Agency and Himber Entertainment

Wong co-wrote and directed "Finale Destination" and "Final Destination 3," and was a writer-exec producer on "The X-Files." He is repped by Endeavor.
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