WB wins bidding war for Landy's 'Skulduggery'


Warner Bros. Pictures has come out on top of a bidding war for the rights to the upcoming children's book series "Skulduggery Pleasant" by Irish author Derek Landy.

The deal, which sources said is worth upward of $1 million, includes rights to all future books in the potential nine-book series. Landy also will adapt his debut novel.

Acquired globally by HarperCollins after a major bidding war and released six weeks ago, Landy's debut has been generating considerable heat in the kidlit world and is being translated into 25 languages. Landy, who grew up on comic books, computer games and martial arts -- he has a black belt in kenpo karate -- wrote horror screenplays before turning his attention to books. His much-hyped debut, which has been singled out for being cinematic and irreverent, reportedly got a seven-figure advance for a three-book deal.

Set in contemporary Dublin, the comic-horror-adventure novel is about a wisecracking skeleton detective named Skulduggery Pleasant and his young accomplice Stephanie, who together must prevent an attempt to bring back the evil Faceless Ones.

U.K.-based production vp Ollie Madden brought the book to Warners and will oversee the project with L.A.-based exec vp production Kevin McCormick. The deal was made through the studio's newly established London production operation, marking its biggest acquisition to date.

With its "Harry Potter" franchise past the halfway mark -- July's "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" is based on the fifth of the seven-book series -- Warners is on the lookout for its next big all-ages franchise.

Blueprint's credits include "Becoming Jane" and the upcoming "In Bruges."

Landy is repped by U.K.-based agent Michelle Kass and L.A.-based attorneys Howard Abramson and Adam Kaller.