Hanks, Howard circle prequel to 'Da Vinci'

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Columbia Pictures has moved one step closer to reuniting "The Da Vinci Code" team of star Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard.

Sources close to the project say that Hanks and Howard are in final negotiations to return for "Da Vinci" prequel "Angels & Demons."

Sony declined comment about the status of the highly anticipated project, which also derives from a Dan Brown best-seller.

But sources say the studio, which benefited from "Da Vinci's" $758 million worldwide boxoffice haul, has set an early January start date and has hired A-list casting directors Jane Jenkins and Debbie McWilliams to fill out the thriller's supporting roles.

Sources say the studio also is waiting for Akiva Goldsman to finish his adapted screenplay, which centers on Langdon, who becomes embroiled in murders involving the Illuminati and the Vatican.
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