Helmer will have his pick of remaining novels to make film

Fletch, the flip shamus of Gregory McDonald’s comic mystery series, has found a new home at Miramax, and a new patron saint in Kevin Smith.

The Chevy Chase “Fletch” franchise — brought to life onscreen in 1985’s “Fletch” and 1989’s “Fletch Lives” — was parked at Universal. But when theatrical rights reverted, Smith took an immediate interest.

Following a meeting with Smith, Universal had re-optioned the project; however, the director told Daily Variety, “I got busy doing ‘Dogma’ and the rights went by the wayside.”

When the rights reverted a second time, Smith set up the series with Miramax for what’s said to be mid-six against seven figures (Miramax would not confirm the price). It will be produced under his production shingle, View Askew, which has an overall deal with Miramax.

The company sees the project as possibly the first in a series of a pictures, which would make it the first Miramax franchise to be produced outside its genre division, Dimension.

Smith will write and direct the first “Fletch” picture, with View Askew veep Scott Mosier and David List, of RoadDog Inc., attached to produce.

The terms of the deal include the remaining series of novels post 1974’s “Fletch” — more than 10 in all, including “Fletch’s Moxie,” “Confess, Fletch” and culminating with “Fletch Reflected.” All are game for development as pics, though it’s not immediately clear which will be the first to catch Smith’s eye.

“Kevin’s wit and humor make him the perfect writer and director for this material,” said Miramax co-head Harvey Weinstein. “With him at the helm, we have the chance to make ‘Fletch’ Miramax Films’ first-ever franchise.”

Miramax was repped by production co-prexy Bob Osher, production exec veep John Gordon and business and legal affairs veep Eric Roth. McDonald was repped by RoadDog’s List.

“Scott and I can’t wait to finally make Mr. McDonald proud by giving his genius series of books the Miramax/View Askew treatment,” said Smith. “Big kudos to David List, Jon Gordon, and Bob Osher for making a massive deal in a whirlwind four hours, and especially Harvey Weinstein — the master ‘Fletch’-fetcher.”

McDonald commented, “I am looking forward to the result of Kevin Smith’s great talent as applied to ‘Fletch,’ and to working with the entire Miramax team.”

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