Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox has teamed with Walden Media to buy rights to Bil Keane’s venerable syndicated comic strip The Family Circus, and they’ve hired Bob Hilgenberg & Rob Muir to script a live action feature. John Baldecchi and Stacy Maes are producing. Bil Keane started the strip in 1960 and continues to generate the single-panel script with his son Jeff. It is the most widely syndicated strip in the world, according to King Features. A number of studios competed for the rights for what is envisioned as a multiple quadrant family franchise. Though several members of the Keane clan have become film animators, Bil Keane resisted making a film deal all these years. Producer Baldecchi spent two years trying to track them down. He got Keane’s number, but never had his messages returned. One day, Baldecchi called and Keane picked up the phone. He made enough of an impression that Keane introduced the producer to his son Jeff. Soon they had an agreement to move forward and then studios got involved. I’m told the deal was six figures against seven-figures and went to Fox and Walden, which are partnered in the upcoming The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Among other projects, the writers worked with Baldecchi on their comedy script Scared Guys, about a couple of agoraphobic roommates who have to venture out of their building and across the street to prevent a murder.

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