Relativity Media has lined up an adaptation of the Tom Clancy thriller Without Remorse and is eyeing a potential franchise centered on the character of CIA operative John Kelly/John Clark.

Lionsgate is believed to have acquired North America, the UK, Australia and several other territories on the project, which focuses on the character's pre-CIA years.

Relativity Media's Ryan Kavanaugh will produce and is in talks with directors and cast in time for a late 2007 shoot. Mario Kassar and Erick J Feitshan's Magnetik Media is handling foreign sales.

Meanwhile Gerard Butler has signed to star in Brian De Palma's Untouchables: Capone Rising in the role of Jim Malone, which was played by Sean Connery in De Palma's 1987's The Untouchables. Contrary to reports, Nic Cage is not associated with the project.

Kavanaugh also revealed that Relativity has acquired rights to the historical biopic Mary Queen Of Scots, which is budgeted in the $30m range and will star Scarlett Johansson.

Capitol Films is handling foreign sales on the project and producers
Kavanaugh, Alexandra Milchan and Melanie Johansson are eyeing a late
2007 start. John Curran is directing from a screenplay by Jimmy

Relativity's slate includes Jim Sheridan's adaptation of Susanne
Bier's Danish drama Brother, which Sony has acquired domestically.

Completed films include James Mangold's Western 3:10 To Yuma starring
Christian Bale and Russell Crowe that Lionsgate will release in North
America, and Mr Brooks with Kevin Costner that MGM will release

Lionsgate also has domestic rights on The Bank Job starring Jason
Statham that is currently in post-production, as well as the Jackie
Chan and Jet Li family epic The Forbidden Kingdom that started filming
seven days ago.

Relativity aims to fully finance 10-15 individual films like this each
year, aside from its well publicised studio slate financing deals.

Kavanaugh added that Relativity has funnelled approximately $4.5bn in
investment dollars into the film business since the company's
inception three years ago.

'Our business model in the independent business world is to make sure
we deliver studio-sized product and highly commercial films with
A-list talent to the independent marketplace,' Kavanaugh said.

Kavanaugh told reporters at a press breakfast that Magnetik is
Relativity's preferred foreign sales company, adding that he would
partner with others like Capitol on certain films.

The attendance of several key personnel from Wild Bunch suggests that the pool of
partners is about to expand.