Universal Studios have confirmed that a sequel to action hit Wanted is in development, with James McAvoy likely to return.

Producer Marc Platt, who has signed a new five-year contract with Universal, confirmed that director Timur Bekmambetov and writers Michael Brandt and Derek Haas are all signed up to return for Wanted 2.

And among Platt's plans for future Universal projects are a George Gershwin biopic, a Jesus Christ Superstar remake and a cinematic version of the hugely successful musical Wicked, concerning the witches of Oz.

Wanted, starring McAvoy and Angelina Jolie, has grossed more than $192 million (£95 million) worldwide and its success has put Platt, Bekmambetov and company at work on a follow-up

"The writers are at work already, and those creative discussions are taking place," Platt added, referring to the logistics posed by the climax of Wanted, with McAvoy the only major character still standing.

Donna Langley, Universal Pictures' production president, revealed that Universal's investment in Wicked - which has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide (£497 million) - and the success of Mamma Mia! has prompted the studio to hasten development on a movie version of the musical.

"Marc has strong commercial tastes, but so eclectic that you can't put him in a box or category," she continued.

"Our goal now is absolutely to make the Wicked film, but much like [producer] Judy Craymer wouldn't give up screen rights to Mamma Mia! until the stage show had reached its pinnacle, Marc and Stephen Schwartz are very mindful of the right timing. But we're dying to do it."

Platt, who produced Tony-winning Wicked with David Stone, confirmed they are in early movie talks, and that writer Winnie Holzman will pen the film script.

Other Universal projects include Rob Marshall's musical Nine, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, and graphic novel adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs the World, to be directed by Hot Fuzz helmer Edgar Wright.

15/07/2008 10:30:16