Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: USA has given a formal green light to the Burn Notice movie prequel starring Bruce Campbell, which will be directed by Burn Notice star Jeffrey Donovan. The two will also executive produce with Burn Notice creator Matt Nix, who wrote the movie, and  the series exec producer Mikkel Bondesen. The untitled two-hour film, which was announced at this year’s Comic-Con, will begin shooting in January on location in Bogota, Columbia for a premiere in Spring 2011. Burn Notice has wrapped production on Season 4, and filming on Season 5 is slated to begin shortly after the movie finishes shooting.

Here are more details about the Fox TV Studios-produced prequel. It is set in late 2005 and focuses on Sam Axe’s (Campbell) last mission as a Navy SEAL. It begins after a faction of Colombian rebels makes trouble for the locally stationed military platoon, with Lieutenant Commander Axe (APA-repped Campbell) being sent down to investigate. As the mission unfolds, Sam begins to uncover the dark secrets of the area, learning the truth about sacrifice, deception, and ultimately what’s worth fighting for.

The idea to do a Campbell-centered Burn Notice movie offshoot originated a year and a half ago when Burn Notice made its Comic-Con debut. “We saw Bruce Campbell as the Bruce Springsteen of Comic Con,” USA’s president of original programming Jeff Wachtel said. “We saw the spectacular explosive fan reaction and realized that, in Bruce, we had not only a great actor but also a pop culture icon.” USA executives decided to take advantage of that, and Nix quickly came up with the basic outline for a movie about Axe’s back story that had not been explored on the series. The idea was put on the back burner while Nix was busy with Burn Notice and The Good Guys until Wachtel made the surprising informal announcement at Comic-Con in July. Donovan got the directing gig on the movie after impressing USA executives with his directorial debut on the Made Man episode of Burn Notice, which aired this summer.

Could the Burn Notice film spawn a series of a movies or a spinoff series starring Campbell? “It is a one-off,” Wachtel said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.