Franchise Pictures is partnering with Story Island Entertainment,Origin Entertainment (which will operate under the new banner of CanyonlightEntertainment), and Entertainment Business Group (EBG) on production of the$80m fantasy franchise The Runelords.

Based on David Farland's bestselling novels The Runelords,Brotherhood Of The Wolfand Wizardborn, thestory is set in a magical world where swords and sorcery prevail.

Principal photography on The Runelords is due to begin in Prague in June with adomestic release slated for summer 2005.

Negotiations are ongoing tofind a director. The companies have entered into a co-production anddistribution agreement with Franchise Pictures; EBG is directing internationalsales, electronic games and merchandising.

Elie Samaha is serving as executive producer and Joseph Merhi willproduce the three films for Franchise.

"Elie and the entire Franchise team bring highly beneficialcreative and distribution power to these pictures," EBG chief executive officerJohn J Lee said in a statement:

"Canyonlight is pleased to be part of such a great team toproduce an epic-adventure motion picture of this scope," the company's W DavidMcBrayer added.

"The Runelords will capture the imagination of audiences worldwide with itsunique storyline and visual style."

Lair of Bones, Farland's fourth novel in the series,was published in autumn 2003 but it is understood the franchise will featurethree pictures.

Domesticdistribution will likely be handled by Warner Bros, with which Franchise has aput deal; Story Island is headed by Farland who is now known as David Wolverton;Canyonlight is headed by McBrayer and Richard Shaw and EBG is headed by Lee andRob Holt with development and production run by Anne Marie Gillen.