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Michael France, Screenwriter on Superhero Movies, Dead at 51

Ang Lee's "The Hulk," "The Fantastic Four" and "The Punisher" were among the films he worked on

Michael France, the screenwriter behind several Marvel superhero adaptations, died Friday in Tampa, Fla., at the age of 51.

He died of complications from diabetes, his sister told the Tampa Bay Times.

France wrote the screenplays for Ang Lee's "Hulk" in 2003; "The Punisher," starring John Travolta, in 2004; and "The Fantastic Four" in 2005.

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He got his big break in 1993, when he wrote the screenplay for Renny Harlin's thriller "Cliffhanger," which starred Sylvester Stallone.  He followed that two years later with a story credit for the James Bond movie "GoldenEye," and also did uncredited work on another 007 script, "The World is Not Enough."

France, who was raised in the St. Petersburg area, bought the city's landmark Beach Theatre for $800,000 cash in 2007, prolonging the survival of a decades-old, single-screen venue where he watched movies as a child. It was closed in 2012.

"He wanted to reopen the theater, wanted to start writing again," his sister Suzanne France told the Tampa Bay paper. "Obviously he didn't think he was as sick as he was."