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Fox Family hedges bet on comic strip picture

NEW YORK — Fox Family Films has finalized a mid-six- against low-seven-figure deal to develop a live-action film based on the popular United Media Syndicate comic strip “Over the Hedge.” Fox Family edged out DreamWorks for the project.

The strip, which was created by writer Michael Fry and illustrator T. Lewis, appears daily in more than 275 newspapers worldwide. It revolves around the suburban-based world of a sugar-craving raccoon named RJ and a turtle sidekick named Verne.

War ensues

When a granola-eating yuppie family moves into the house on the property where the critters dwell, a war ensues. It’s a subversive look at suburbia through the eyes of the animals.

The project was put together by Fox Family prexy Chris Meledandri and senior veep Jon Jashni, with UTA agent John Lesher repping the writers. Fry and Lewis will write the first draft of the screenplay. Lesher also repped Jim Cox, who put the project together as producer after contacting the writers through the e-mail address they print at the bottom of each strip. Cox is the producer of such animated films as “Ferngully” and “Oliver and Company,” and is moving into live-action fare.

The idea is for the animals to be brought to life through the use of computer-generated technology used in such films as “Jurassic Park” and “Babe.” It gives Fox Family — which is prepping such pics as “‘Cinderella” with Drew Barrymore, “Silver Surfer” with “Romper Stomper” director Geoffrey Wright and the remake of “Fantastic Voyage” — another shot at an event-caliber film.

Fox Family is also carrying the studio’s animation hopes. It opens “Anastasia” on Nov. 21, with the second animation effort, “Planet Ice,” on the drawing board. The shingle also opens “Home Alone 3” for Christmas.

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