Bruckheimer sets 'Monstrous' Disney deal

Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films have paid $1.5 million for film rights to the unpublished novel “Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless,” by first-time writer Ahmet Zappa.

Story concerns a young brother and sister who learn their family is part of a long line of monster hunters. The pair squabble constantly but must band together against the most diabolical creature in the universe.

Book is skedded for publication in August from Random House as a hardcover with full-color art. Zappa wrote the story and penned some 300 illustrations.

Disney and Bruckheimer won a bidding war against Warner Bros.’ David Heyman and Paramount’s Plan B that began just days after Zappa, the youngest son of the late rock star Frank Zappa, finished the manuscript.

Bruckheimer is currently producing the second and third installments of Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise.

Bidding on “Monstrous Memoir” commenced after the book was slipped to a producer at Warner Bros. When Warner moved to make an offer, Zappa’s agent, Helen Breitwieser, asked her husband, former Fox CEO Harris Katleman, to help her get in touch with studio chiefs.

Disney’s Bob Iger offered his email address and invited Breitwieser to send him the manuscript Monday night. He read it overnight and the next morning gave it to Buena Vista Motion Picture Group prexy Nina Jacobson.

While Breitwieser wrote directly to studio toppers, New York literary agent Jody Hotchkiss approached producers, and Bruckheimer got a copy at about the same time through his New York book scout.

Negotiations began in earnest Friday, spearheaded by Jacobson.

Iger called Zappa on Monday morning to express his enthusiasm for the book. Zappa then met later that day with Bruckheimer and Chad Oman to seal the deal.

“I wrote the book for kids, and all these grownups are telling me they enjoyed it,” Zappa told Daily Variety.

Bruckheimer will produce. Oman and Mike Stenson will be exec producers. Brad Epstein will oversee development for the studio.

Random House made a deal in fall 2003 for “Monstrous Memoirs” based on eight pages, including some art.

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