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Franco goes gay again
Pic: supplied Actor James Franco

James Franco is preparing to go gay once more in a new project based on filmmaker William Friedkin’s controversial movie Cruising.

The actor, who played Sean Penn's character's lover in Milk, has been inspired to shoot his own version of the 1980 film, which starred Al Pacino as a New York cop searching for a serial killer in the city's gay underground.

However, Franco's Cruising will not be a remake - the Oscar nominee could not secure the rights to the movie, so he decided to re-imagine what the lost 40 minutes of footage that Friedkin had to cut from the original to satisfy censors would look like.

Franco hired director Travis Mathews to shoot the film, who has warned fans to expect a lot of gritty and sexually explicit imagery.

"He knew he wanted real gay sex in it," Mathews tells indiewire.com.

"His people went looking for a filmmaker who had filmed real gay sex, and I suspect someone who would complement his vision.

"We talked about why we would be interested in still looking at this film. We talked about his interest in the film and his interest more broadly in so many gay-themed stories and visionaries. He's worked with so many in front of and behind the cameras over the years."

Friedkin was forced to re-edit Cruising to convince Motion Picture Association of America officials to lower his US rating from the extremely restrictive X to R, meaning those under the age of 17 could view it as long as they were accompanied by an adult.

Franco's project will premiere in part during New York Fashion Week in September, before being released in 2013.