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'Flash Gordon' Movie in the Works at Fox (Exclusive)

"Star Trek 3" scribes J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay will work from a treatment by George Nolfi to write the script.

Flash Gordon Comic Cover - P 2014

Flash Gordon could be rocketing back to the big screen.

Twentieth Century Fox has closed a deal to pick up the screen rights to the pulp comic-strip hero in a package that has John Davis producing and J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, the up-and-coming scribes who just worked on Star Trek 3, on board to write the script.

The deal is a long time coming for Davis, who spent more than a year nailing down the rights from the Hearst Corporation. The veteran producer, whose credits include Chronicle and the upcoming Man from U.N.C.L.E. among dozens of others, used his discretionary fund to get the rights. He also hired George Nolfi, who wrote Bourne Ultimatum, to pen a treatment and brought in Payne and McKay. 

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(Nolfi now joins Davis as a producer on Gordon, whose deal was made by Rocky Shepard of King Features on behalf of Hearst.)

Gordon is the hero first created in 1934 by iconic artist Alex Raymond who, along with the lovely Dale Arden and mad scientist Hans Zasrkov, ends up on the planet Mongo fighting its tyrannical ruler, Ming the Merciless.

The popular strip spawned three Buster Crabbe serials and in 1980 came the cheesy, colorful Flash Gordon movie, which had a soundtrack by Queen and cast that included Timothy Dalton, Max von Sydow and Chaim Topol. (Sam Jones played Gordon, who original backstory of being a polo player was modernized to be a football player.)

Hollywood has been trying to make a new movie and possibly a franchise for ages, with Gordon's rights set up at Universal, Mandalay and more recently Sony, where Neal Moritz tried to launch the rocket to Mongo.

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Fox exec Matt Reilly identified the project early and brought it into the studio; he will now oversee the project. (Reilly is a former Warner Bros. exec who worked on the Lego Movie at its inception.)

Before nabbing Star Trek 3, Payne and McKay previously wrote the script adapting Boilerplate, the graphic novel by husband-and-wife comics team Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett, for J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot production company. They also wrote Micronauts, a feature based on the 1970's toy line that Abrams is producing.

The duo are repped by UTA and Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment.