Imax Corp. has made a deal with Steve Oedekerk that will see his animated film “Santa vs. the Snowman” reformatted into a full-scale 3-D film to anchor an Imax holiday program hitting theaters for Thanksgiving 2002.

Pic’s being produced by Oedekerk’s O Entertainment and animated by DNA Prods. Some additional footage will be animated by Omation, a division hatched by Oedekerk.

Oedekerk’s writing credits include “Patch Adams,” “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and “The Nutty Professor.” He directed “Nothing to Lose” and “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.”

Deal is the first made by Greg Foster, the longtime MGM exec who recently became president of Imax Filmed Entertainment, who has been charged with upping the creative caliber of Imax fare.

Oedekerk originated “Santa vs. the Snowman” as a half-hour special for ABC, but it aired just once because Imax topper Brad Wechsler sparked to the idea of turning it into a 3-D Imax spectacle.

“Every time I’ve been in an Imax theater, I always felt there was a great opportunity for narrative,” Oedekerk said. “Funny things can be funnier, and the music completely envelopes you. Nobody’s gotten the content right yet, but when somebody does, Imax will hold an unrivaled theatrical experience.”

Imax will have 221 screens by year end, 92 of which can display 3-D.

“Steve is one of the first to throw his creative energy into something that is not only a terrific creative medium, but an underexploited economic arena,” said Foster.

The Imax run of Disney’s “Fantasia 2000” grossed $65 million in four months, with an $8,000 per-screen average throughout the run.

“Santa vs. the Snowman” focuses on a lonely snowman whose enthusiasm for visiting Santa’s Village melts into envy because Santa gets all the kudos. A cold war ensues.

Holiday wishes

Pic will anchor a holiday card that will include the Imax short “Paint Misbehavin’,” and the plan is for the program to be a perennial holiday Imax event.

Aside from repurposing “Santa vs. the Snowman,” Oedekerk has a late-summer release date from Fox on “Enter the Fist,” in which he has used obscure ’70s pic “Tiger and Crane Fists” as the basis for a comedy in which he and others are inserted into the storyline.

There’s also his slate of “thumb” movies; eyeing the homevid market, Oedekerk’s worked on “Thumb Wars” and “Thumbtanic” so far, and he has begun working on “Frankenthumb” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Thumb.”

Oedekerk’s deal was made by William Morris.