Fox in ‘League’ with Moore

Studio picks up fantasy-thriller

Twentieth Century Fox has acquired acclaimed comic scribe Alan Moore’s Victorian fantasy-thriller, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” for producers Don Murphy and Jane Hamsher.

The studio also has enlisted Alex Ayers, who penned Natural Nylon/Alliance’s upcoming “Marlowe,” to write the screenplay based on Moore’s coming comic book series that brings together some of the 19th century’s most infamous characters.

Unlike the majority of comics and graphic novels that deal with futuristic, superhero-laden storylines, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” takes place in 1898 in a fictitious retooling of Victorian England. Instead of superheroes, Moore gathers some of the more fantastic and infamous (real and fictitious) figures of the times.

As the 20th century approaches, an array of forces gathers to bring down the British Empire, and the Victorian Secret Service recruits a band of individuals with unique skills and talents to combat these enemies.

Among those who make up this “League” are Allan Quartermain (of “King Solomon’s Mines” fame), Dr. Henry Jekyll (alter ego of Mr. Edward Hyde), Captain Nemo, John Griffin (the Invisible Man) and Mina Harker (the lone survivor of Dracula). Once united, the dangerous and motley crew’s first mission is go up against the notorious Dr. Fu Manchu, who they find is in cahoots with another mysterious master criminal.

Fox executive vice president Peter Rice championed the project and will oversee it along with prexy of production, Tom Rothman.

The first book of the initial six-issue “League” series is set to be published in November by Wildstorm Entertainment. Other Moore graphic novels that have been optioned for film, include the Jack the Ripper tale, “From Hell” which the Hughes brothers are set to direct and Hamsher and Murphy will produce for New Line; “V for Vendetta,” which is set up at Joel Silver’s Warner Bros.-based production company; and “Watchmen,” which is in development with producer Larry Gordon.