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‘Ring’ scribe turns ‘Skeleton Key’ at U

Spec, 'Talisman' adaptation covered in Kruger pact

After scoring the weekend’s top film with “The Ring,” screenwriter Ehren Kruger has scared up a two-picture deal at Universal that is worth seven figures.

Deal includes Kruger spec script “Skeleton Key,” and he will adapt for Steven Spielberg and Kennedy-Marshall “The Talisman,” epic novel by Stephen King and Peter Straub about a 12-year-old boy who travels between parallel universes to obtain a talisman that will save the life of his ailing mother.

The first project in the deal is “Skeleton Key,” which is described as genre pic similar to “The Ring,” which Kruger adapted from a Japanese film. “Key” plot is being guarded, but the venue is New Orleans, the setting is gothic and the protagonist is a twentysomething woman.

New project was brought in by Universal execs Scott Stuber and Holly Bario, and the studio is hoping to attach “K-PAX” director Iain Softley, though no deal has been made at present. Daniel Bobker will be attached to produce.

Kruger has been scoring in the fright mode. Aside from “The Ring,” his credits included “Scream 3,” “Arlington Road” and “Reindeer Games.” He previously sold a spec when MGM bought “The Brothers Grimm,” a pic that is eyeing a spring 2003 start date, with Bobker producing along with Chuck Roven.

Paradigm reps Kruger and brokered the deal. ICM reps Softley.

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