'Marmaduke' heading to the big screen

Fox hires helmer Tom Dey to develop film adaptation

Fox obviously disagrees with W.C. Fields' admonition never to work with animals. It's a veritable zoo over in Century City.

The studio has signed director Tom Dey to develop a big-screen adaptation of "Marmaduke." Brad Anderson created the decades-running newspaper comic strip, about a mischievous Great Dane who lives with the Winslow family, in 1954. The big dog then appeared in several animated episodes of "Heathcliff" and "Garfield and Friends."

The studio declined comment on any specifics for the feature because the project is in the early stages of development.

But Fox no doubt registered the huge response to the Fox 2000/Regency Enterprises 2007 hit "Alvin and the Chipmunks," directed by Tim Hill. The family comedy, which mixed live-action human characters and CG-animated rodent protagonists, grossed $358 million worldwide. A sequel, "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," is in production for a Christmas Day release.

Additionally, Fox 2000/Regency's Christmas 2008 release "Marley & Me," about an ill-mannered but lovable dog and his owners, has grossed $166 million worldwide.

The studio also has "We Bought a Zoo" and the Farrelly brothers' project "Walter the Farting Dog" in development.

It hasn't been decided whether "Marmaduke" will be live-action, animated or a mutt.

The Endeavor-repped Dey directed "Shanghai Noon," "Showtime" and "Failure to Launch."