In this file photo taken on December 5, 1995 US actors Robert De Niro (L) and Al Pacino (R) pose with director Michael Mann as they arrive for the world premiere of the film 'Heat' in Burbank, California. (AFP/Vince Bucci)
Michael Mann wants to make a big-screen sequel to "Heat," the iconic movie that brought Hollywood legends Al Pacino and Robert De Niro together for the first time, the director has told AFP.
The sprawling 1995 neo-noir epic starring Pacino as a Los Angeles detective pursuing De Niro's heist gang boss across the city is widely considered a classic crime thriller.
Mann announced in 2016 that a novel inspired by "Heat" would be published by his own HarperCollins publishing imprint, but shared fresh details of the book with AFP.
"The novel is about two-thirds written, and it's the prequel to 'Heat' and it's the sequel to 'Heat' rolled together," said Mann. "So it's everything before the movie and everything after the movie."
Asked if he plans to give the novel the movie treatment, Mann said: "Of course!" before adding that he could also foresee it evolving into a television series.
"Initially a film, but the landscape is changing so radically and so quickly, who knows," he said.
Mann said the book would explore the time De Niro's character Neil McCauley spent in prison in his 20s, as well as the years Pacino's cop Vincent Hanna worked on the Chicago police force before moving to LA.
It will also feature the childhood of Val Kilmer's character, young bank robber Chris Shiherlis.
"There was so much depth there -- it was always a question of 'How do you do a sequel?' So we found a way to do that along with the prequel," said the writer-director.
Mann, 76, is co-writing the book with crime author Reed Coleman, and it is due to be published next year, he said.
The original "Heat" was praised for its striking cinematography, delighting moviegoers and inspiring a generation of filmmakers with its melancholic but visually stunning depictions of Los Angeles.
It featured a meeting in a diner between the two leads that marked their first scene together after appearing separately in "The Godfather: Part II" 21 years earlier. The pair also co-starred in 2008's "Righteous Kill."
Pacino and De Niro will be reunited on the big screen once more later this year for Martin Scorsese's gangster film "The Irishman."
Mann said he was "really looking forward" to the film, and was keen to debunk myths that working with both of the revered actors at the same time was problematic.
"Everybody who projects what that might be like gets it wrong -- they assume that high-powered actors are these exotic, difficult creatures. It is exactly the opposite," he said.
Asked what the challenges of directing Pacino and De Niro together were, he replied: "Nothing."
"Working with actors who have strong, healthy artistic egos, and are really good at what they do and have that self-confidence, is a dream," Mann added.
"They're honestly questing to do great work... What more do you want as a director?"
In "The Irishman" Pacino will play legendary union boss Jimmy Hoffa, and De Niro portrays World War II veteran-turned-hitman Frank Sheeran.
The septuagenarian pair will undergo digital de-aging for earlier scenes in the decades-spanning true story.
Mann did not say if he intended for Pacino and De Niro to reprise their roles in a new "Heat" film.
Speaking to AFP at a Los Angeles announcement event this week for French film festival COLCOA, Mann also discussed a number of other projects he is working on.
A television series set during the Vietnam War is "coming along" and will tell the story of the pivotal 1968 Battle of Hue from the perspectives of American soldiers and Vietnamese fighters as well as civilians.
"It's going to be between seven and nine hours -- it's not a docudrama, it's a very submersive, subjective drama," he said.
Also in the works is a screenplay Mann has written based on real events in Southeast Asia's notorious "Golden Triangle" during the 1980s.
Mann said he had traveled frequently to the lawless wedge of land intersecting China, Myanmar, Thailand and Laos, which has long served as a base for opium and heroin production.
Finally, Mann and screenwriter Eric Roth have co-written a Western based on the true story of late 19th-century Comanche leader Quanah Parker.
It tells the story of the half-white, half-Native American warrior "trying to liberate his mother," who was born to Texan settlers but captured and raised by Comanches before being forcibly returned to white society following a bloody raid.
"Comanche is a very difficult project to get going. It's a true story and it's an extremely expensive Western," said Mann, adding that no actors were yet attached to the project.