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WB, Hughes crack deal for ‘Peanuts’

Warner Bros. has inked a deal with filmmaker John Hughes to write and produce a live-action comedy based on Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” characters, the studio announced Friday.

Warner Bros. acquired the movie rights to the adventures of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and the other “Peanuts” characters from strip creator Schulz.

After meetings earlier this month between Hughes and Schulz at the cartoonist’s Santa Rosa home, WB contracted with the filmmaker to write and produce the screenplay.

Development follows closely on Hughes’ deal with Warner Bros. to produce his screenplay for “Dennis the Menace,” which is scheduled to wrap production in the first week of December (Daily Variety, June 1). “Dennis” shapes up as one of WB’s major summer releases for 1993.

If it comes to fruition, the “Peanuts” project would become the first live-action movie version of the syndicated comic strip. First published in 1950 , “Peanuts” has engendered the 1968 stage musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and numerous successful animated television specials, to say nothing of countless items of merchandise–from greeting cards to sweatshirts.

Hughes said he expects to go over the 42 years of daily strips prior to tackling the “Peanuts” screenplay, functioning “much like an editor” in writing the movie.

Hughes hopes to start the script around Christmas for delivery to the studio by early spring. He said he has not held discussions about directing “Peanuts,” nor set a tentative production start for the movie.

The “Peanuts” deal is the latest high-profile project to fall within the bounds of Hughes’ deal with Warner Bros., which was signed in 1987.

The filmmaker’s Hughes Entertainment company subsequently signed a non-exclusive seven-pic pact with 20th Century Fox in 1991–an agreement that followed on the heels of “Home Alone” and included the Nov. 20 release “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.”

As a producer over the last seven years, the Chicago filmmaker has been attached to 16 major studio releases, beginning with “The Breakfast Club” in 1985 through the coming “Dennis the Menace.”

From 1985-1991, Hughes ranked No. 7 among the top 100 producers with a cumulative box office gross of $ 763.98 million, according to the research firm Paul Kagan Associates Inc.

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