Relativity digs 'Tunnels' as franchise


NEW YORK -- Relativity Media has acquired franchise rights to Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams' teen adventure novel series "Tunnels" for producers Ryan Kavanaugh and Mark Canton, with plans to finance, develop and produce a series of feature films.

The books center on London teen Will Burrows, who shares a love for digging tunnels with his father. When his dad disappears down a hole in the first novel -- set for publication this summer in the U.K. and in January in the U.S. from Chicken House/Scholastic -- Will heads underground with his friend Chester and discovers a spooky and potentially deadly secret.

Relativity's Kavanaugh, Canton and executive producers Danny Davids and Neil Canton hope to mine several hit films from the author's debut novels and replicate the success of the "Harry Potter" series. First-time authors Gordon and Williams have already completed a second "Tunnels" book and are now working on a third. The first book has more than $1 million in advance sales and prepublication rights in more than 21 languages.

Publisher Barry Cunningham, known for signing "Potter" author J.K. Rowling, discovered the authors' debut in an early self-published version.

Canton is repped by Jake Bloom and Ralph Brescia of Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette & Feldman. The authors are repped by Chicken House Entertainment with Stephen Moore at the Paul Kohner Agency.