New Line Cinema has made an outright high-six-figure purchase of “Baby Andromeda,” a first novel by screenwriter Martin Schenk that the studio is eyeing as a possible new horror franchise. Less than 24 hours after Schenk sealed the screen deal, he landed a two-book hardcover deal with Villard worth high six-figures, sources said. Schenk will also be paid to write the script.Schenk wrote the spec script “The One,” which sold to Touchstone and producer David Hoberman. He quietly wrote the novel and submitted it to UTA agents Richard Green and Howie Sanders and literary agent Theresa Park of Sanford J. Greenburger and Associates. Witten and Zide to produce New Line moved quickly to acquire the book because its director of development, Brian Witten, knew Schenk’s writing. Witten was a co-producer on “The One” along with Warren Zide. Witten and Zide will be producers on “Baby Andromeda,” a sophisticated horror tale that combines elements of “Carrie” with current tabloid mentality. Witten brought the project to New Line production president Michael De Luca. In the book, a husband and wife desperate for cash concoct a scheme to hatch their own Baby Jessica disaster situation, in which they’d stick the son they like least into a narrow 100-foot deep hole. Their hope is to play the victim role and exploit the media and tabloid coverage of the rescue to make money. Unfortunately, their cherished daughter Andromeda stumbles into the hole instead. She’s eventually rescued, and the parents’ dreams of riches come true, but Andromeda is never the same. Soaked in evil When the grown-up beauty returns to her hometown some years later, it turns out she soaked up a lot of evil while down in the ground, along with powerful kinetic powers. She has returned to exact vengeance on those who exploited her misery. “Like ‘Species,’ there’s a beautiful young woman who creates havoc and forms the basis for a hip horror movie we feel can become a franchise,” Witten said. Villard editor Peter Borland made the publishing deal. It is the second major sale UTA’s Sanders and Green have co-agented with Park. They recently sold the Nicholas Sparks novel “Message in a Bottle” to Warner Bros. and producer Denise DiNovi for a $1.5 million purchase price (Daily Variety, Feb. 20).
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