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After 'Miami Vice', where now for Michael Mann?

Over the past decade and a half, American filmmaker Michael Mann has forged a reputation as being a visceral, stylish and absorbing writer/director whose pictures, amongst other things, attempt to dissect the neuroses and attitudes of organised criminals and the actions they undertake. His filmography includes Manhunter, The Last of the Mohicans, Heat, The Insider, Ali, Collateral and - most recently - this year's Miami Vice which is still on general release in cinemas worldwide.

So where now for Mann? His production company Forward Pass is currently developing a trio of projects, ranging in subject matter from a Second World War drama to a political thriller.

The one that has been in development the longest, and will most probably be his next directorial venture, is that aforementioned thriller. Entitled Arms and the Man, it is inspired by a news article by Peter Landesman about Victor Bout, a notorious international arms trafficker. Focusing on an American federal agent's attempts at tracking down some stolen plutonium, the project appears to be - stylistically, at least - a cross between The Insider and Miami Vice. Michael Mann is currently working on the screenplay and will also produce the film for Universal Pictures. A 2008 release date is likely.

The Few is a Second World War drama that Tom Cruise is tentatively slated to star in. It focuses on American pilot Billy Fiske's tenacity at disregarding the USA's then-neutrality in the war and flying Hurricanes against the Germans. John Logan is writing the screenplay, based on the book by Alex Kershaw, but the production might run into problems after Paramount Pictures very recently - and very publicly - severed all ties with Cruise and his producing partner Paula Wagner. Whether the project will move to another studio or whether Cruise will now be forced to drop out remains unseen.

Mann is also developing Damage Control with regular alumni Jamie Foxx in talks for the lead role. The plot centres on a young lawyer, working for a sports agent, who discovers the consequences of performing the "damage control" on news stories involving some of his favourite athletes. No screenwriter has been announced but the project is set up at Universal Pictures.

Finally, there have been rumours that a sequel to Miami Vice might be greenlit depending on its final box office takings. The film opened at number one in the USA back in July, and although its receipts haven't been as strong as some had expected, it has still performed well and it's been critically well-received in most quarters. However, it seems unlikely that Mann would direct a sequel considering the other projects on his plate and his initial hesitation at directing the first instalment. It seems much more likely that he would just occupy producing duties, and maybe write the screenplay, if the sequel was ever greenlit.

Miami Vice, following Collateral's release pattern, should be released on DVD just before Christmas. To read Kevin O'Reilly's review of the film, click here.

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