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Thursday, 9 November, 2000, 12:29 GMT
Third Hannibal film planned
Sir Anthony Hopkins
Sir Anthony Hopkins reprises his role as Dr Lecter in Hannibal
A prequel to the Oscar-winning film Silence of the Lambs is in the pipeline even before the sequel, Hannibal, is released.

The producers of Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, both of which star Sir Anthony Hopkins as the flesh-eating psychiatrist, are keen to bring Thomas Harris' 1981 novel Red Dragon to the big screen.

Jodie Foster and Sir Anthony
Jodie Foster and Sir Anthony both won Oscars in Silence of the Lambs

The movie would effectively be a remake of Manhunter, directed by Michael Mann in 1986, which was also based on the Thomas novel, the first to feature Lecter.

Hannibal is expected to be released next year and was directed by Ridley Scott, who took over from Jonathan Demme, the director of Silence of the Lambs.

Jodie Foster pulled out of the sequel, reportedly after concerns about the level of violence in the script, and the role of Clarice Starling has been taken by Julianne Moore.

Hannibal is set primarily in Florence and follows Dr Lecter's violent life in Italy before a bloody return to the US.

Five Oscars

Sir Anthony Hopkins is said to be interested in reprising his role as Lecter for a third time, depending on the script.

"Red Dragon is about the crime Hannibal Lecter committed and the way he was arrested," producer Dino De Laurentiis told The Hollywood Reporter.

"Hannibal Lecter escaped in Silence of the Lambs, and in Hannibal, you see him in a new situation in Florence.

"The audience would like to know, once and forever, why, where and by whom Hannibal Lecter was arrested. This new version has parts of the book never seen before."

De Laurentiis also produced Manhunter, which despite failing to ignite at the box office has since developed a loyal band of admirers, but he passed on the Silence of the Lambs, but retained the rights to the Dr Lecter character.

Silence of the Lambs made more than $276.3m (192m) world-wide and won five Oscars.

Thomas Harris was reportedly paid $10m (6m) to the rights to Hannibal, the second book in the Lecter series.

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See also:

05 May 00 | Entertainment
Oldman joins Hannibal
11 May 00 | Entertainment
Florence fears Hannibal factor
31 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Hopkins lands Grinch role
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