'Rio' Director to Tackle Live-Action Monster Film 'Shadows' for Fox (Exclusive)

The studio has struck a deal for Jason Micallef's red-hot pitch set in the world of cryptozoology as a potential franchise starter.
Carlos Saldanha

20th Century Fox has struck for Jason Micallef's red-hot pitch titled Shadows, which will be directed by Rio and Ice Age helmer Carlos Saldanha. Sources say the studio paid $750,000 against $1.5 million for the live-action/CGI monster project, which is set in the world of cryptozoology.

Underground, which manages Micallef, is producing alongside Saldanha. Underground took out Micallef's 50-page document that lays out a three-film franchise on Tuesday night, and the film sparked heated interest. But Fox, which has a long relationship with animation veteran Saldanha, moved quickly. (Saldanha has a first-look deal with the studio.)

Fox sees the project as a franchise starter for its in-house helmer who has directed the two Rio movies for the studio as well as three of the four Ice Age movies. The first Rio film earned $485 million worldwide for Fox Animation, while the sequel took in $500 million. The four Ice Age films also have been a mammoth hit for the studio, earning $2.8 billion worldwide. A fifth Ice Age will be released on July 15, 2016.

Shadows is poised to be Saldanha's live-action debut.

Micallef, too, has ties with Fox. He is writing the Play-Doh movie, based on the popular Hasbro toy, for the studio. He previously wrote the 2011 Jennifer Garner indie comedy Butter

Underground's Trevor Engelson and Josh McGuire are producing alongside Saldanha and his BottleCap Prods. Maresa Pullman also is producing for BottleCap.

Saldanha is repped by WME and attorney Nancy Newhouse-Porter.

Micallef is additionally handled by WME and attorney Chad Christopher.

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