Wahlberg in Shyamalan's 'Happening'

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Mark Wahlberg has signed on to star in M. Night Shyamalan's thriller "The Happening" for 20th Century Fox. The studio has grabbed Friday, June 13, 2008, as its worldwide release date.

"Happening" revolves around a family on the run from an apocalyptic threat to humanity. Wahlberg will play Elliot Moore, the science teacher at the center of the event. Shyamalan wrote the original screenplay and will produce with Sam Mercer and Barry Mendel, producer of Shyamalan's "The Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable."

Production is set to begin in August in Philadelphia.

With a budget of $57 million, "Happening" is being co-financed by Fox and India's UTV. Fox is distributing worldwide, except in India, where UTV will handle the release.

"Happening" will mark the first time Shyamalan -- whose most recent film, "Lady in the Water," was a bust for Warner Bros. Pictures -- will partner with Fox. His first four films, all successes of varying degrees, were made for the Walt Disney Co.

Fox, which hasn't released a thriller on this scale since 2004's "The Day After Tomorrow," is bullish on the release date. "Friday the 13th has very distinctive global connotations, which make it the ideal launching pad for this frightening thriller," Fox domestic distribution president Bruce Snyder said.

Wahlberg, who received an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in Warner Bros. Pictures' "The Departed," stars in Paramount Pictures' "Shooter." He recently signed on to Paramount's boxing drama "The Fighter" for director Darren Aronofsky.

Wahlberg is repped by Endeavor, Leverage Management and attorney Jason Sloane.
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