Fox gets ‘Overkill’ after heated spec bid battle

Twentieth Century Fox emerged the winner Friday night after a brisk battle for Reed Steiner’s action spec script “Overkill,” with the studio agreeing to pay $ 675,000 against $ 1 million.

“Overkill” is described as a “Three Days of the Condor”-type drama about a retired CIA agent who’s brought back when his protege begins assassinating colleagues.

The studio won out over two rival offers from unusual combinations: sources said Columbia offered over $ 500,000 upfront with Denise Di Novi attached to produce, though more than half that bid was believed to have come from the discretionary fund of fellow Col producer Jon Peters.

New Line went over $ 600,000 and had the runner-up bid, with “The Fugitive’s” Arnold Kopelson poised to produce. A Warner Bros. staple, Kopelson brought the project to New Line because WB has a similar project in development, sources said. The high bid underscores New Line’s commitment to upgrade its projects.

The deal was negotiated by Circle Talent Associates co-founder Jon Klane, while Fox-based producer Paul Schiff will produce with Steiner’s manager, Robert Stein. None of the “Overkill” principals could be reached for comment Sunday.

In addition to the high bid, Fox had several other advantages that prompted Klane to stop the bidding, even though several other prominent producers asked for the weekend to put together a bid.

Weeks ago, Fox senior exec Michael London signed Steiner to write the Pauly Shore comedy “To Protect and Serve,” and London and production headTom Jacobson also got Wesley Snipes to express interest in “Overkill,” sources said.

The script went to bidders on Thursday morning, and Carolco quickly attempted to take it off the market with a preemptive bid of $ 450,000 against $ 750,000. That offer was withdrawn when it wasn’t immediately accepted.

Steiner has yet to notch a feature credit, though he wrote “Hit List” for Showtime.

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