Cagey Par on way to 'Zoo'

Raimi to produce comic-based pic

Paramount Pictures has preemptively picked up the rights to "Monster Zoo," an upcoming graphic novel from Doug TenNapel, for a live-action adaptation that will be produced by Sam Raimi and Josh Donen via their Buckaroo Entertainment banner and Gotham Group's Ellen Goldsmith-Vein.

The deal was low-six against seven figures.

The action-adventure story is set in motion when an ancient idol is unearthed and transported to a zoo in the U.S. There, the idol's spirit awakens and starts to mutate the caged animals. A group of teenagers must band together to try to stop the idol and the evil from destroying the world. The graphic novel will be published in May from Image Comics.

A writer has not yet been hired to adapt.

Executive producing are Buckaroo's Russell Hollander, Gotham's Peter McHugh and TenNapel.

Dori Howard, who moved to Paramount from Nick Films, is overseeing the project for the studio, reporting to Paramount president of production Brad Weston.

For Gotham, which specializes in children's lit properties, "Monster" is a return to the studio with which it teamed for the recent adaptation of "The Spiderwick Chronicles" book series.

Raimi is in preproduction on his horror film "Drag Me to Hell," while Buckaroo is in production on the heist thriller "Armored" with Matt Dillon.

TenNapel's graphic novels have a strong track record of generating heat. In 2004, Universal shelled out $1 million for his "Tommysaurus Rex," while his "Creature Tech" prompted a bidding war the same year before ending up at Regency. Dennis McNicholas ("Land of the Lost") recently came on board to adapt "Creature Tech." TenNapel is repped by Gotham.
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