After Disney ditched the film from ‘Zombieland’ writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese because it was too edgy for their family film mandate, Universal Pictures has acquired the film rights to ‘Cowboy Ninja Viking’. Deadline tells us that ‘World War Z’ director Marc Foster will helm the project and will begin production later this year once the zombie apocalypse film wraps.

‘Cowboy Ninja Viking’ is based on the 2009 Image graphic novel by AJ Lieberman and artist Riley Rossmo. The series revolves around a unit of schizophrenics turned assassins called Triplets. After the unit falls apart and goes their separate ways, Duncan, a triplet who has the personalities of a cowboy, ninja, and Viking, is sent by the psychotherapist who led the team to find and stop the rogue Triplets.

As Deadline points out, this is the second time that Universal has picked up one of Disney’s dark disregarded projects based on a graphic novel. The studio is taking the reigns from the House of Mouse on ‘Tron: Legacy’ director Joseph Kosinski’s post-apocalyptic Tom Cruise film ‘Oblivion’, which was a graphic novel created by Kosinski himself.  Like ‘Cowboy Ninja Viking’, Disney let go of the project and was reimbursed for the development costs.

I understand that Disney is all about the family friendly films, but they’re letting these gems slip through their fingers. Wernick and Reese are hot properties right now and they do great work, so for Disney to pass on a project from them doesn’t look like a great move in my eyes. Disney’s loss is Universal’s gain, I guess.