Helmer wins 'Battle' with filmed pitch

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Jonathan Liebesman is in negotiations to direct "Battle: Los Angeles," a sci-fi actioner Neal Moritz and his Original Films are producing for Columbia.

The story follows one Marine platoon's encounter in the battle against an alien invasion on the streets of Los Angeles.

The studio picked up the spec by Chris Bertolini pre-emptively in April, and Moritz was bullish on making it as soon as possible.

Liebesman beat out several other prospects for the job by making a whiz-bang presentation that showed his specific vision and passion for the project, described as "Black Hawk Down" meets "Independence Day."

In August, Liebesman went out to locations in Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles, shooting sequences and plates, and adding CGI aliens. He also created a pre-viz alien invasion sequence.

The South African helmer directed "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" and "Darkness Falls." "Battle" represents a breakthrough of sorts that sees Liebesman jump up several rungs in terms of budgets and prestige.

Liebesman, repped by CAA and Principato Young Entertainment, is in post on the political thriller "The Killing Room," starring Timothy Hutton, Peter Stormare and Nick Cannon. (partialdiff)
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