Carlos Gallardo, producer of El Mariachi and Once Upon A Time In Mexico, and Kevin Eastman, co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and owner of Heavy Metal Publishing, have signed on as executive producers of Zombie Apocalypse (working title).

Chee Keong Cheung is writing (with co-writers Mark Strange and Steve Horvath), directing and producing via his UK-based Intense Productions.

The other producers are Mark Strange and Michael Riley of Sterling Pictures in association with executive producers Mick Southworth and Martin McCabe’s Magic Lantern Digital Productions.

The film is casting now for a planned late 2011 shoot, followed by an autumn 2012 release.

The team are attending Comic-Con and noted that they are in active negotiations for the film’s UK rights.

Cheung plans for this film to be the first in a trilogy. It will combine the genres of action, zombie horror, and war, also adding in mixed martial arts. The story will follow soldiers who have to rescue a scientist from zombies who have superhuman combat skills.

The multi-platform plans include a graphic novel, merchandise and a game. Eastman’s Heavy Metal Publishing will handle the graphic novel as well as coming on board as promotional and merchandising partner.

Gallardosaid: “When I read the screenplay for Zombie Apocalypse I was completely mesmerised. I found the script to be powerful, dynamic and fast paced. Chee is a great young director with a lot of talent and I believe a big career ahead of him and he reminds me of my early days and collaboration with my good friend Robert Rodriguez.”

Eastman added: “When Chee showed me the script and told me what he wanted to do with it, I just thought it was awesome. I think what’s interesting is Chee’s taken the best elements of all the zombie films I’d ever seen and turned it on its ear by adding this element of mixed martial arts to it.”

Chee, who last directed martial arts thriller Bodyguard: A New Beginning, said: “I’m incredibly excited and very honoured to be working with both Carlos and Kevin on the production. Their work speaks for itself, both having had incredible success with the franchises they’ve created.”