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SweetPea prepping role-playing pix

SweetPea Entertainment, producer of Walt Disney Pictures’ upcoming comic-book based feature “GEN13,” has acquired all rights to the popular sci-fi role-playing game “Traveller.”

In conjunction with Grand Design Entertainment, SweetPea is now developing both feature and TV concepts for the property. Earlier this year SweetPea, a privately financed, Beverly Hills- and Hong Kong-based production company, formed Imperium Games to relaunch the game, which was originally created in 1977.

Role-playing games are released as a series of books which describe a fictional universe, the characters who inhabit it, and rules for generating one’s own characters. Players interact with the story by rolling dice and looking up the results in printed tables.

SweetPea has partnered with Rob Liefield to create a comic book version of “Traveller,” which describes events that take place in 16 future eras over the next 100,000 years. A number of Liefield’s comic book titles, including “Dooms IV” and “The Prophet,” are being developed as feature films.

There are approximately 6 million role-playing game players in the U.S., and about 12 million worldwide, according to SweetPea president and co-chairman Courtney Solomon. “It’s a hugely popular literary category that Hollywood doesn’t really understand,” he said.

But even for SweetPea, translating the highly interactive, fantasy-based games into a two-hour movie isn’t easy. While the company has for 2-1/2 years owned film rights to the well-known “Dungeons & Dragons” game, developing a workable script has proved difficult.

“The first draft was going to cost between $100 million and $130 million to shoot,” said Solomon. “Now we have it down to about $65 million or $70 million.”

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