MGM is near a deal to transform “Malcolm in the Middle” star Frankie Muniz into a teenage equivalent of James Bond.
After a weeklong bidding battle, MGM is in final negotiations for “Agent Cody Banks,” a Jeffrey Jurgensen-scripted adventure film, which Muniz will star in during his “Malcolm” hiatus. Production will start June 1.
Muniz will be paid at least $2 million, making him the best compensated child movie star since the “Home Alone” heyday of Macaulay Culkin. That comes from his “Malcolm” following coupled with the strong performance of “Big Fat Liar,” the Universal comedy that cost $14 million and is headed toward a $50 million gross.
MGM emerged with exclusive negotiation rights after an auction that involved five studios, with MGM and New Line battling into the weekend.
Film will be produced by Dylan Sellers Prods. and Maverick Films for Splendid Pictures, the upstart company run by Andreas Klein and David Glasser that recently announced its first project, the Jan De Bont-directed “The Courier.”
New film is about a teen drafted by the U.S. government for covert missions requiring youth-sized participants.
MGM topper Michael Nathanson and production president Alex Gartner lobbied hard to make the film a linchpin of an effort to move into family-oriented fare and committed to greenlight a film with a budget around $20 million. It is viewed as having a kind of marketing potential of MGM’s hit, “Legally Blonde,” which the studio is trying to sequelize.
Muniz is repped by 3 Arts’ Jeff Golenberg and agented by Wendy Green.