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Universal Gets EA's Army of Two

Electronic Arts has closed a deal with Universal Pictures to bring EA's new franchise and top-selling videogame, ARMY OF TWO, to the big screen.

Scott Stuber, through his Stuber Productions shingle, will produce the film along with EA, and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns, who recently co-wrote the blockbuster THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, has signed on to adapt the game for the screen. Universal Pictures, Stuber Productions and EA are planning to begin production of the film in 2009.

ARMY OF TWO, which has grossed over $100 million in sales since its release in March 2008, is the second film project that EA has set in motion as part of an aggressive strategy to move its IP across more entertainment platforms. The company is also currently developing THE SIMS at 20th Century Fox with producer John Davis.

ARMY OF TWO, which shipped earlier this year for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, is a strategic co-operative third-person shooter which features a captivating and politically-charged storyline. The game is set in the world of private military contractors and follows the missions of Rios and Salem. After an extensive career in the Rangers, they're drawn into the business of war. However, they quickly learn their employer is as corrupt as the people they're sent to take out.

"Because people experience the game in pairs, playing two guys who go against the world, Scott and I agreed this format presented an opportunity to make a great buddy film," Burns said to VARIETY. "The ambiguity of these private military corporations lends weight to an intelligent thriller with relevance to what's going on in the world right now. You have contractors with their own agendas, and two guys whose friendship supersedes all the politics. I told EA right off the bat I wasn't a gamer, and that appealed to them because they didn't want to simply replicate the game."

Per VARIETY, EA's sci-fi game MASS EFFECT (from division BioWare) was optioned by Avi Arad Productions. Take Two Interactive's BIOSHOCK was also recently bought by Universal for director Gore Verbinski to helm.

Burns last wrote THE INFORMANT, directed by Steven Soderbergh and is producing with Lorenzo di Bonaventura on a drama about the 15 Columbian hostages for Warner Bros. with screenwriter Peter Landesman. He also produced documentary AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH.

Stuber is a producer on several projects, including Guillermo del Toro's FRANKENSTEIN, Timur Bekmambetov's MOBY DICK and Christopher Nolan's THE PRISONER.