Robin Hood Redux: Crowe with a Bow

Universal Pictures has picked up "Nottingham," a revisionist Robin Hood tale, as a possible starring vehicle for Russell Crowe.

The studio is prepared to pay the phone-tossing, Oscar-winning star an impressive $20 million against 20% (industry lingo courtesy of Variety) to play the Sheriff of Nottingham in the film, which was written by the creators of Showtime's "Sleeper Cell."

The trade paper says that Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris will get a seven-figure deal for the spec script, now set up at Imagine Entertainment with Brian Grazer producing.

The pic reportedly takes the point of view that Robin Hood was a less-than-virtuous thief and that he and Maid Marion were in a love triangle with the more-noble-than-expected sheriff.

Other studios involved in the bidding war for "Nottingham" included New Line and Warner Bros.

Variety makes no mention of Imagine principal Ron Howard intending to direct, though that has to be considered possible given his "Beautiful Mind" and "Cinderella Man" relationship with Crowe.

Crowe's most recent starring vehicle, "American Gangster," is also set up at Imagine and aiming for a November release. The actor will next appear in James Mangold's "3:10 to Yuma," suggesting that "Nottingham" won't be ready for production before the end of 2007, beginning of 2008.