Len Wiseman to direct 'Gears of War'

Chris Morgan will write the video game adaptation

New Line is putting "Gears of War" in motion, setting Len Wiseman to direct the video game adaptation being produced by Temple Hill's Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey.

Chris Morgan, who wrote the upcoming Universal tentpoles "Wanted" and "The Fast and the Furious 4," has been hired to write the screenplay. Wiseman and Morgan will develop the story treatment.

The movement on the project suggests that the reconfigured New Line won't be confined to horror, thrillers and low-budget comedies but will be able to tackle big-budget projects outside the scope initially ascribed to the Warner Bros. division.

"Gears," developed by Epic Games, became an instant success when it debuted on the Xbox 360 in November 2006. It became one of the most popular games on the Xbox Live service, overtaking "Halo 2," and sold more than 3 million units worldwide in its first 10 weeks. It received numerous awards, including Gamespot's Game of the Year and the Interactive Achievement Awards' Overall Game of the Year.

Set on the planet Sera, the game thrusts players into a battle for survival between humans and a race of creatures that surface from the bowels of the planet known as the Locust Horde. Players assume identities of soldiers on Delta Squad as they fight to save Sera's inhabitants.

Overseeing for New Line are Richard Brener, Walter Hamada and Dave Neustadter. Stuart Beattie was the original writer on the project.

Video game adaptations have proved a tricky art to master in Hollywood. Some movies have fallen apart because of creative and economic pressures ("Halo") or just not performed well at the boxoffice ("Doom").

Cliff Bleszinski, the "Gears" design director at Epic, said the tricks to adapting a game are simple: "Hollywood needs to take the source material seriously, win over the avid gamers and make it work for an audience that is young and old, male and female." But he also admitted that that plan is easier said than done.

"Disney made a great movie out of a theme park ride, and somebody is sooner or later going to make a great one out of a video game," Bleszinski said. "Having someone like Len really helps the odds. I think we're going to create something special here."

The ICM-repped Wiseman last directed "Live Free or Die Hard," which grossed about $135 million in the U.S., and was behind the vampire-werewolf "Underworld" franchise. Morgan is repped by ICM. The two wrote together on "Shell Game," a sci-fi project set up at Sony.