Statham in 'Death Race' driver's seat


Jason Statham is in talks to topline "Death Race," a remake of Roger Corman's cult classic being made by Universal Pictures. Paul W.S. Anderson is writing the script and directing the futuristic actioner, which is being produced by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner via their C/W Prods. as well as Anderson and his Impact Pictures partner Jeremy Bolt.

Released in 1975 as "Death Race 2000" and starring David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone, the movie told of a dystopian future America in which the president presides over an ultraviolent road race from New York to Los Angeles. One of the ways that drivers score points is by mowing down innocent bystanders using their heavily armed cars.

"Race" originally was set up at Paramount as a Cruise vehicle. The project was among those put into turnaround after the Sumner Redstone-Cruise imbroglio. Sources said that when it heard "Race" was free, Universal, spearheaded by David Linde, moved quickly to secure it.

Roger Corman is exec producing. Scott Bernstein is overseeing for Universal.

A late summer/early fall start is being eyed.

Anderson, repped by UTA and Ken Kamins, has made his name making movies in the sci-fi mold. He most recently directed "AVP: Alien vs. Predator" and counts "Resident Evil" and "Soldier" among his credits. Impact is producing the upcoming adaptation of "Castlevania" for Rogue/ Crystal Sky.

Statham, repped by CAA, most recently starred in the action movie "Crank."