Helmer reels in ‘Big Fish’ for Columbia

Zanuck to produce 'Apes' helmer Burton's next

Tim Burton has signed on to direct “Big Fish” for Columbia Pictures.

Pic, an adaptation of the Daniel Wallace tome “Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions,” was penned by John August (“Go”) and will be produced by Richard Zanuck, Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen.

Project reteams Burton with Zanuck after they teamed on 20th Century Fox’s blockbuster “Planet of the Apes.”

“Big Fish” is the story of braggart and exaggerator Edward Bloom and his son William, who after a long estrangement returns home only to learn his father is dying of cancer. Desperate to know the complicated man before it’s too late, William sets about trying to unravel fact from fiction, with much of the story told in humorous or poignant flashback.

Pic is a priority project for the studio that is being overseen by senior veepee of production Andrea Giannetti, reporting to Columbia’s prexy of production Peter Schlessel. Burton and producers will begin casting pic immediately.

“The heart of this thoroughly original film is a son who struggles with his father’s penchant for storytelling, and there are few storytellers that compare with Tim Burton,” said Amy Pascal, chairman of Columbia Pictures. “He is a visualist without peer, and his take on this material is mythical, magical, heartbreaking and priceless. We could not be in better hands as we move forward toward production.”

Burton, repped by WMA, last directed the “Planet of the Apes” remake, which brought in more than $180 million at the domestic box office.

At one time, Steven Spielberg was in discussions to helm pic, which then seemed likely to be a Sony and DreamWorks co-production and was expected to follow the Spielberg-helmed “Minority Report” ( Daily Variety, Aug. 10, 2000).