‘Riptide’ churns up at Fox

Pic is first for Kopelsons

NEW YORK — In what is quickly shaping up as the first go project for producers Arnold and Anne Kopelson under their exclusive deal at Fox, “X-Files” director Rob Bowman has been set to helm “Riptide,” an action adventure scripted by Jon Cohen (“Minority Report”). The project is being fast-tracked by Fox after execs got a rewrite from scripter Paul Attanasio, and the studio is expected to soon be out to cast in hopes of getting the film into production early next year.

“Riptide” revolves around a surgeon who joins a professional treasure hunter on his family’s island. They search for an ominous water pit, a 60-foot-diameter hole dug down to the water table which contains brutal currents that has claimed the lives of numerous adventurers, including the surgeon’s father. All those who perished tried to penetrate the pit to recover a rumored pirate’s treasure believed to contain about $2 billion worth of jewels and gold. The surgeon also gets to work on his operating technique, as a romance is part of the adventure.

Film originated from a novel by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, which was published by Warner Books and optioned two years ago by Fox for the Kopelsons.

Fox prexy Tom Rothman and Nate Hopper are shepherding the project along with Kopelson Entertainment production prexy Stephen Brown and creative affairs prexy Nana Greenwald. Brown will be executive producer with Bernie Williams.

The Kopelsons arrived at Fox 2-1/2 years ago after a long run as cornerstone producers at Warner Bros., where their hit parade included “Falling Down,” “Outbreak,” “Devil’s Advocate,” “Eraser” and “The Fugitive.” The Kopelsons also produced “Platoon” and “Seven.” Total worldwide gross on their films exceeds $2 billion.

When they made the five-year Fox deal, they had to start from scratch. WB has been notorious for not letting projects go since Fox turned the WB castoff “Home Alone” into a megahit. WB kept the remaining Kopelson slate and has since released two Kopelson-produced pics, “U.S. Marshals” and “A Perfect Murder.” The Kopelsons have been developing new films at Fox, with several of those projects now coming to fruition and are expected to be ready for greenlight consideration by next year.

Fox was eager to put Bowman back into a feature after he proved capable of handling a special effects-oriented action film with “X-Files,” the film version of the Fox Network hit series that grossed $84 million domestically and another $101 million overseas. Bowman came to that film after directing numerous episodes of the show.

“Riptide” is the second scripted adaptation at Fox by Cohen, who turned the Philip K. Dick short story into “Minority Report,” which is being rewritten by Scott Frank as a Steven Spielberg-directed drama starring Tom Cruise and possibly Matt Damon. That film became a Fox/DreamWorks co-production.

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