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Baumbach, Stiller circle ‘Penguin’ pic

20th Century Fox pic is based on 1938 children's book

Filmmaker Noah Baumbach and Ben Stiller are considering whether to raise penguins.

Baumbach is in talks to direct Stiller in 20th Century Fox’s “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” based on the beloved 1938 children’s book. Stiller also is in talks at this point; no deal has been made.

John Davis is producing through his Davis Entertainment production company.

“Mr. Popper” would be the first kiddie pic Baumbach has directed.

He did, however, co-write the screenplay for Wes Anderson’s family toon “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” which Fox released last year.

“Mr. Popper” would pair Stiller and Baumbach for the second time; they are in theaters with Focus Features’ “Greenberg,” which Baumbach directed and Stiller toplines.

Fox acquired screen rights to “Mr. Popper” a year ago, setting scribes Sean Anders and John Morris to write the adapted screenplay.

“Mr. Popper” is the tale of a house painter whose dreams of Antarctic exploration prompt him to write letters to real explorers. One of them sends him a penguin, which he keeps in an icebox. Soon, Mr. Popper receives a female penguin from a zoo and before he knows it, he has a flock of 12 birds.

When the penguins start to eat him out of house and home, Mr. Popper forms Popper’s Performing Penguins, a stage act that goes on tour and causes mayhem at every stop.

The book, written by Richard and Florence Atwater, won the 1939 Newbery Award and has been taught in many elementary school classrooms. Stiller is next in theaters in December with Universal’s “Little Fockers.”

Baumbach is repped by UTA; Stiller, by WME.

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