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By Charles Webb

After what The Hollywood Reporter describes as months of negotiations, Simon Crane has signed on to direct a "Hot Wheels" movie based on the Mattel line of die-cast toy cars.

Crane beat out "28 Weeks Later" director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo in the latest attempt at jump-starting the nascent "Fast & the Furious" competitor, after previous attempts to bring the project at other other studios (Columbia, Warner Bros.) and other directors (McG) stalled out.

"Hot Wheels" joins "Gran Turismo" and the upcoming Aaron Paul vehicle "Need For Speed" as attempts to catch up to Universal's seemingly unstoppable "Fast" franchise. Across six movies, they've earned nearly a billion dollars for the studio since Vin Diesel and Paul Walker first glowered at each other across the hood of a muscle car with 2001's "Fast and the Furious."

If you thought a "Hot Wheels" movie would offer some good, family fun, you've got another think coming: The script, currently undergoing a rewrite from "Quiz Show" writer Paul Attanasio, concerns a "washed-up Illinois State Trooper who, after a dangerous military device falls into the hands of a criminal, fights the man his father once put behind bars."

Crane has been a fixture in Hollywood, acting as a second unit director and stunt coordinator on films like "Titanic," "Goldeneye," "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," and most recently, "World War Z." "Hot Wheels" would be the second feature to which Crane's name is attached as director, alongside the spy thriller "Echelon."

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