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Preacher gets the movie treatment

04/11/2008. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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Columbia Pictures has purchased the rights to the dark fantasy graphic novel Preacher to be adapted into a feature film directed by Sam Mendes and produced by Neal Moritz through his Original Films banner and Kickstart Productions' Jason Netter.

Preacher is a work created by writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon. The film will be executive produced by Ken Levin. It focuses on Jesse Custer, the preacher of a small, destitute Texas town, who is struggling to get by. When his town is decimated by a supernatural force, Custer embarks on a journey across the country to take on the evil that has destroyed his town.

Tolmach told, "This is a very cinematic graphic novel with amazing characters and a fantastic story and we look forward to bringing it to the screen with Sam Mendes, Neal Moritz and Jason Netter."

Moritz added, "Preacher is a groundbreaking graphic novel, one that redefined the medium in many ways, and Sam Mendes is the ideal choice to bring it to the screen. Not only is Sam one of our greatest directors, but he saw the way for Road to Perdition to make the transition from graphic novel to compelling drama and we’re confident that he will bring the same touch to Preacher. I am also pleased to be working with Garth Ennis once again."

Preacher, which ran 1995-2000, consists of 75 issues – 66 regular, monthly issues, with five one-shots and a special four-issue, "The Saint of Killers," miniseries. Columbia Pictures previously reported that Moritz and Netter would be producing The Boys, based on another Garth Ennis comic book.

In 1999, Mendes made his film directorial debut on American Beauty. In 2002, Mendes brought to life Max Allan Collins' graphic novel Road to Perdition, starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. His most recent film, Revolutionary Road, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, will be released Dec 26th 2008.

Among the films Moritz is developing are The Green Hornet, starring Seth Rogen and Stephen Chow, directed by Chow, and written and executive produced by Rogen and his partner, Evan Goldberg; bounty Hunter, directed by Andy Tennant; all Creatures Great and Small, an event tentpole from Derek Haas, writer of 3:10 to Yuma; and 21 Jump Street, starring Jonah Hill. He is in post-production on the fourth installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise, which reunites the original cast, including Vin Diesel and Paul Walker for director Justin Lin.

Jason Netter and his Kickstart Productions banner specialise in adapting comic and graphic novel material to film and television. Jason Netter recently produced the Wanted movie starring Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy. He has also finished producing the television series Painkiller Jane based on the comic series.

He is in pre-production on the graphic novel based film Couriers as well as developing 30 comic films and television series such as The Boys, Red Star; monsters Attack Network, Robotech and Wanted 2.

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