LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The producers behind the upcoming movie "Superman Returns" said on Wednesday they are laying the groundwork for a very different kind of big-screen hero with a feature film based on the 1970s television series "Kung Fu."
Legendary Pictures has optioned rights for the project from the original creators of the East-meets-West drama that starred David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine, the Buddhist martial-arts master who flees China to wander the American frontier.
Legendary's distribution president, Scott Mednick, said the feature adaptation would take place mostly in China and focus on Caine's training as a Shaolin monk and the circumstances that lead him to the Old American West.
Series creator Ed Spielman and his writing partner on the show, Howard Friedlander, are finishing a movie screenplay that Legendary will then present to Warner Bros. Pictures in hopes of clinching a deal to make the film, Mednick said.
Legendary already has a five-year "first-look" development deal with Warner Bros., the Time Warner Inc. studio that will release the production company's latest offering, "Superman Returns" in July.
The studio's TV division produced the original "Kung Fu" TV series, which ran on ABC from 1972 to 1975.
In the show, Caine flees China after committing murder and ends up pursued across the 19th century American West by Chinese imperial agents and bounty hunters as he helps strangers and searches for a long-lost half brother.
The series included frequent flashbacks to Caine's boyhood as a Shaolin student, dubbed "grasshopper," and the lessons imparted to him by Master Po and Master Kan.
No decisions about a director or casting have been made, Mednick said, but he ruled out a return of Carradine, now 69, who starred on TV as the half-Chinese, half-American hero.