Fox $1 mil deal is ‘Child’s’ play

Twentieth Century Fox has closed a $ 1 million deal for Alice Hoffman’s latest novel “Thursday’s Child” for on-lot producer Lynda Obst.

The seven-figure transaction includes $ 500,000 to purchase the book rights and as much as $ 500,000 more for screenwriting services. Hoffman will adapt the material with her husband and writing partner Tom Martin.

Sources said the deal also includes best-seller escalators that could total $ 200,000.

Precedent for the deal was the August 1991 sale of Hoffman’s “Turtle Moon” to Universal Pictures and Robert Redford’s Wildwood Enterprises for $ 800,000 upfront (half for the rights, half for the script), and a guaranteed $ 200,000 production bonus if the movie goes (Daily Variety, Aug. 22, 1991).

“Turtle Moon” is being rewritten by Barbara Benedek and developed at Universal by director Jon Avnet.

Hoffman’s agent, Gersh Agency’s Ron Bernstein, declined comment regarding yesterday’s deal with Fox on “Thursday’s Child.” Fox worldwide production prexy Tom Jacobson also declined comment.

The tentatively titled “Thursday’s Child,” to be published next year by G.P. Putnam, is a romantic story about a divorced New York horticulturist who secretly adopts, trains and falls in love with a man raised by wolves and then is forced to say goodbye when he’s wrongly accused of murder.

Also circling the Hoffman property were Paramount for Steven Spielberg, indie producer David Geffen, Rosalie Swedlin’s Longview Entertainment for U and Spring Creek Prods. for Warner Bros.

The purchase of “Thursday’s Child” marks Fox’s third major acquisition of material for Obst since the producer inked a first-look deal at the studio in January.

Just weeks after she moved her indie company to the lot, Fox outbid WB and Propaganda Films for movie rights to the New Yorker article “Crisis in the Hot Zone,” by Richard Preston (Daily Variety, Jan. 25). In February, the studio nabbed Edith Wharton’s long-unavailable novel “The Buccaneers.”

In addition to “Thursday’s Child” and “Turtle Moon,” other Hoffman literary works that are intended for the movies include her novel “Seventh Heaven” and her original script “Pet People,” both of which are in development at WB with Diane Keaton attached to direct.

Largo bought Hoffman’s book “At Risk” about four years ago.

To date, the only Hoffman material to be brought to the big screen was WB’s 1983 drama “Independence Day.”

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