Cruise/Wagner maps out kidpic 'Trove'

Paramount has decided to seek “A Treasure’s Trove,” buying up feature rights to Michael Stadther’s bestselling children’s book for mid-six figures and setting it up at Cruise/Wagner.

The rights auction, conducted last week by the Firm, drew bids from most of the major studios.

“Trove,” which Stadther self-published in November, has caused a sensation over the clues in the book that lead to a dozen gold tokens hidden in public places in the U.S. and are redeemable for jewels worth a total of $1 million. The author hid the tokens himself and insists they can be accessed without digging, moving or disturbing objects or structures.

Stadther’s book, whose full title is “A Treasure’s Trove: A Fairy Tale About Real Treasure for Parents and Children of All Ages,” revolves around 12 forest creatures who employ a woodcarver, his half-elf wife and their winged pet to save their friends who disappear after being crystallized by falling dust.

According to Stadther’s agent Bob Diforio, nearly all the 140,000 copies from the first two printings of the book and its companion, “100 Puzzles, Clues, Maps, Tantalizing Tales and Stories of Real Treasure,” have been sold. A third printing of 250,000 copies will hit stores on Feb. 21.

Diforio said Stadther decided to self-publish after publishers passed on “Trove” last year. He added that Stadther’s Dec. 21 appearance on “The Today Show” was key in sparking sales.

Stadther, who also illustrated the book, was able to bankroll its publication from selling off his banking software company five years ago. No one has yet found one of the gold tokens.

Paramount-based Cruise/Wagner is in production on “The War of the Worlds,” starring Tom Cruise and directed by Steven Spielberg. Cruise’s producing partner Paula Wagner and Kathleen Kennedy are the producers on “War of the Worlds,” co-financed by Par and DreamWorks.

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