Project is being developed for helmer Shadyac

Universal Pictures has paid $1 million to preemptively option Doug TenNapel’s graphic novel “Tommysaurus Rex.”

“Rex” is due out this summer from Image Comics, the third-largest comics publisher in the U.S. Under the deal, TenNapel can be called upon to provide an adapted script for the novel should U be inclined to ask for it.

Project is being developed for Universal-based helmer Tom Shadyac (“Bruce Almighty”), but it’s unclear if Shadyac will helm or just produce the pic, which has no scripter aboard.

“Rex” follows a young, nearly friendless boy who loses his golden retriever in a car accident. Devastated, he is sent by his father to recover on his grandfather’s dairy farm, where he befriends a Tyrannosaurus rex.

Meanwhile, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures and Spyglass last week entered into talks to mount a “Bruce Almighty” sequel based on the Bobby Florsheim and Josh Stolberg original spec script “The Passion of the Ark,” which sold to Sony for $1.5 million last April. U is courting Jim Carrey to reprise his role and hopes to have Shadyac return to helm another “Bruce.”

TenNapel, best known for creating the “Earthworm Jim” TV series, vidgame and toy line, will exec produce the “Rex” project.

His previous work, sci-fi adventure “Creature Tech,” prompted a bidding war, with Fox-based Regency Enterprises snapping up the comic for high six figures against high seven figures in August 2002. TenNapel’s “Tech” is being produced by Wendy Finerman.

Repped by animation specialty firm the Gotham Group, TenNapel is the author of other kids books, including the popular Strange Kid Chronicles series: “Mighty Monday Madness,” “Tuna Fish Tuesday” and “Wisenheimer Wednesday.”

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