Serenity: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal Pictures has greenlit Serenity, the feature film based on Joss Whedon's Fox TV series "Firefly," which was canceled in late 2002 after just 11 episodes.

Deals are in place for Whedon to direct and for the original cast of the TV show to reprise their roles. The film, budgeted in the mid-eight figures, is skedded for a June start and should be ready for a 2005 release.

After Fox pulled the plug on "Firefly," Whedon struggled to continue the project, speaking with other nets and cablers about the skein, then finally turning to studios about a feature version. U acquired the feature rights from Fox last fall.

Whedon said the pic will be released under the title "Serenity" to give it some distance from the TV version. "It was important that people understand that the movie isn't the series," he said. "The movie is bigger, more epic than anything you can do in a series."

To that end, he said he went out of his way while penning the "Serenity" script to make sure that it is accessible to auds who never tuned into "Firefly."

Series was a space oater set 500 years in the future, tracking the journeys of the crew aboard the Serenity. The film is set about six months after the TV show left off, and centers on two passengers on board the ship who attract trouble to the crew.

Brian B.