According to The Hollywood Reporter, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures are teaming up to slay a classic beast.

The two studios are taking the reins on Robert Zemeckis' Beowulf, a big-budget performance-capture film that is being co-financed by Shangri-La Entertainment and boasts an international cast headed by Ray Winstone, Crispin Glover and Angelina Jolie.

Shangri-La, headed by Steve Bing, was a major investor in Warners and Zemeckis' The Polar Express in which Bing invested at least $80 million.

Sony Pictures had originally planned to distribute Beowulf, which it touted on one of its company Web sites as a future release. It also was expected to take a financial stake in the project, which was initially developed by Shangri-La. A Sony spokesman did not return calls seeking comment.

Paramount will now handle domestic distribution for the film, while Warners will handle international.

The Old English epic poem, which is thought to have been written in the eighth century, chronicles the exploits of Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the indomitable monster Grendel.

Winstone (Sexy Beast) has signed on to play the title character and will be joined by Glover as Grendel and Jolie as Grendel's mother. Rounding out the cast are Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright Penn, John Malkovich, Alison Lohman and Brendan Gleeson.

The announcement was made jointly Wednesday by Paramount chairman and CEO Brad Grey and president Gail Berman and Warners president and chief operating officer Alan Horn and president of production Jeff Robinov.

Zemeckis will employ the next generation in the digitally rendered live-action process he pioneered with 2004's The Polar Express. Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction) and Neil Gaiman (MirrorMask) are penning the screenplay. The film will be produced by Zemeckis, Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke of ImageMovers. Martin Shafer will executive produce along with Avary and Gaiman.

" Beowulf is a timeless, epic tale of heroism and triumph," Zemeckis said. "Digital rendering will allow us to depict this incredible story in ways we would never have dared imagine, and it's a privilege to work with Shangri-La, Paramount and Warner Bros. on this extraordinary project."

Zemeckis received an Academy Award for directing Forrest Gump. His credits include Cast Away, Contact, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the Back to the Future trilogy.

ImageMovers is working with Sony Pictures Imageworks on its second digitally rendered live-action film, Monster House, which is set for release in summer 2006. This process uses ImageWorks' proprietary Imagemotion technology.

Beowulf is slated for a 2007 release.

Evan Jacobs at Movieweb
Evan Jacobs