20th Century Fox is nearing a deal to acquire the rights to Choose Your Own Adventure, the iconic 1980s book line, with John Davis and John Fox of Davis Entertainment attached to produce what the studio hopes will be a crossplatform four-quadrant action-adventure franchise.
The books were known for their forked or stacked storytelling, allowing readers to choose the path of the characters every few pages, with the decisions leading to different fates, good and bad.
The concept came from Edward Packard, who tried and failed several times to get a book off the ground. In 1975, he partnered with R. A. Montgomery, then an aspiring author and a publisher at a small Vermont-based press. The initial books had modest sales, and it wasn’t until Montgomery made a deal with Bantam Books in the late 1970s that the series became a huge hit, inciting spinoffs and imitators.
The line went on to last until the late 1990s, with over 180 titles and 250 million books sold worldwide.
Packard and Montgomery authored many of the initial titles themselves, but eventually started subcontracting out to other writers. When the two parted ways, Montgomery retained the rights to his stories and — more importantly from a brand point of view — the name; he now runs Chooseco Llc. Packard kept the rights to his books and created U-Ventures, which is creating divergent storytelling apps.
Fox will have all screen rights to the property and will be able to adapt it for multiple platforms. The next step is figuring out what the action-adventure story or stories will be, as the book series ran the gamut of locations (from the Sahara desert to the Altair solar system), time periods and genres (from mysteries to sci-fi and beyond).
Montgomery will act as an executive producer with his wife and Chooseco partner, Shannon Gilligan.
The property has attracted a host of suitors over the years (even Nicole Kidman pursued it at one time when she had a producing deal at Fox), with the Vermont movie neophytes courted by both producers and agencies. The deal, in the seven-figure range according to sources, is almost a decade in the making and a coup for Davis.
Damien Saccani, who helped Chooseco navigate the Hollywood labyrinth over the years, will also act as an executive producer along with Daniela Taplin of Red Crown.
Davis is a veteran producer with credits ranging from the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic Predator to the Will Smith sci-fi movie I, Robot to last year’s surprise hit, found-footage movie Chronicle.
Davis Entertainment also made a successful push into television this year, securing two series orders at NBC for dramas The Blacklist, which many have billed as one of the best scripts of the season, and a remake of the late-’60s police procedural Ironside, starring Blair Underwood.