Col scares up ‘Wither’ deal

In a pre-emptive move, Columbia Pictures this week bought “Wither,” a chilling novel of ghosts and possession, for Manifest Films.

That Sony lot-based indieprod shingle is run by ex-Sony exec Lisa Henson and Janet Yang, Oliver Stone’s former production partner at Ixtlan Films.

The selling price, $500,000 against $1 million for a produced film, was remarkable, considering the tyro status of the book’s authors, Joe Gangemi and John Passarella. (Gangemi has previously sold a spec script, “Black Eyes,” to New Line Cinema, but this marks his debut as a novelist.)

The book concerns three females — a girl, a teenager and a pregnant woman — who are suddenly preyed upon by ghostly personages. Sources said no screenwriter has been attached to the project yet, but that several have been contacted about it.

Col prexy Amy Pascal bought the tome for her studio from Manifest execs Naomi Despres and Mark Levine, with Manifest principals Henson and Yang serving as producers on the project. Columbia senior VP of production Michael Costigan will oversee the project for the studio.

The United Talent Agency’s literary department brokered the deal for Gangemi and Passarella, and attorney David Colden of Colden & McKuin oversaw the process.

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