Steve Zaillian's Film Rites Signs First-Look With Fox

The two-year-deal with the Oscar-winning scribe's production banner illustrates the studio's push to acquire commercial material with an elevated approach.

Film Rites, the production banner run by Oscar-winning scribe Steve Zaillian and partner Garrett Basch, has signed a first-look deal with 20th Century Fox.

The two-year deal comes on the heels of the studio’s acquisition of Wool, an e-book sensation written by Hugh Howey. The publishing rights were hotly contested (Random House picked them up) but for the film rights, Fox beat up several suitors, including an aggressive Lionsgate and Temple Hill.

Film Rites also has Deep Water, a thriller written by Zach Helm, in development at Fox 2000.

With its deal, Film Rites hopes to make grounded sci-fi, elevated thrillers and commercial true stories its stock and trade.

The deal also highlights how Fox is trying to push for overtly commercial material that has an elevated approach, seen with such examples as X-Men: First Class and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The two movies brought a more thoughtful angle to what could have been typical genre fare.

Zaillian wrote the adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher, and shared an Oscar nomination with Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin for Moneyball. He won an Oscar for writing Schindler's List, Steven Spielberg's acclaimed movie about the Holocaust.