Lions Gate Films and LakeshoreEntertainment have begun pre-production on the thriller Crank starring Jason Statham, currently riding high as thestar of the number one North American picture The Transporter 2.

Lakeshore is producing theproject, which is set to begin principal photography in Los Angeles in lateOctober. Lions Gate will release in the US and shares international rights withLakeshore.

Statham plays an assassinwho goes on a day-long rampage after he discovers he has been poisoned,attempting to seek vengeance and save himself and his girlfriend.

Mark Neveldine and BrianTaylor wrote the screenplay and will co-direct. Lakeshore Entertainmentchairman and chief executive officer Tom Rosenberg will produce with Lakeshorepresident Gary Lucchesi, and Radical Media's Michael Davis.

"Mark Neveldine andBrian Taylor have written an intense, action-packed thrill ride thatimmediately captured our imaginations, and their expertise with action moviesmake them the perfect team to helm Crank," Lions Gate president of production Michael Paseornek said.

"We are thrilled to haverising star Jason Statham in the lead, and are looking forward to working withour friends at Lakeshore and Radical Media."

"Jason's the idealaction star to play this explosive, unique and physically demanding rolecreated by Brain and Mark," Rosenberg added. "We are thrilled to have him andwe are also excited to be partnering with Lions Gate once again."

Lakeshore's current releaseslate includes Scott Derrickson's The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, which opens in North America this weekend, and LenWiseman's upcoming Underworld Evolution, which is set to open on Jan 20, 2006. Both titles will open throughScreen Gems.