Penn signs 2-year deals with studio

Zak Penn, who with Simon Kinberg has scripted “X-Men 3,” has been staked by the studio to a two-year first-look deal to write, produce and direct.

Penn has a long history with Fox. A credited writer on the Fox films “PCU,” “Behind Enemy Lines,” “X2: X-Men United” and “Elektra,” Penn had a previous deal with the studio that he let lapse when he directed the improvisational film “Incident at Loch Ness.”

Aside from polishing “X3″ with Kinberg before director Brett Ratner begins production, Penn is producing the Fox pic “Clan of the 7th Circle,” a kid fantasy pic that Michael Karnow will write. Penn is also expected to develop a film at the studio to direct, possibly a spinoff of the “X-Men” franchise.

The studio is already prepping two of those, the David Benioff-scripted “Wolverine” and an origin story about the villain Magneto that Sheldon Turner is writing. Penn’s would be a new pic.

“For some reason, I have always found myself back at Fox, and many of the projects I’ve been involved in have gotten made,” Penn said. “They have always supported me and been supportive of my aspirations as a director.”

Penn, whose shingle is called Zak Penn’s Co., has just hired Michael Chamoy to be a development exec and promoted Lance Stockton to be veep of production.

Penn’s separately developing to direct “The Grand,” another improvisational comic film, this time set in the world of high-stakes poker. He expects to shoot the pic before the year is out.

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