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20th Century Fox Signs 5-Picture Deal With Walden Media.

LOS ANGELES -- Twentieth Century Fox and Walden Media have entered into a five picture production and distribution deal, it was announced today by Hutch Parker, President of TCF and Cary Granat, CEO, Walden Media and president, AFG. Under the terms of the deal, Fox and Walden Media together will develop and produce the projects, four of which are based on celebrated children's novels, with Fox responsible for distribution.

The productions include three novels by Newbery Medal winning authors, Kate DiCamillo's "Because of Winn-Dixie," Katherine Paterson's "Bridge to Terebithia" and Lois Lowry's "The Giver"; Wendy Orr's "Nim's Island," named one of the "Best Books for Children of 2001" by the Los Angeles Times; and Adam Mortimer's as-yet-unpublished comic book proposal "Biblionauts."

"Walden Media has shown a remarkable instinct and ability with event children's material, as evidenced by what they are doing now with `The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe' and their previous work on `Holes,' and they are already proving to be an excellent partner on `Because of Winn-Dixie,'" commented Parker. "We believe there is a broad audience eager to see these projects brought to the big screen and plan to move forward quickly on this exciting slate."

"We are partnering with Fox because they share our passion for great family entertainment and our vision for delivering resources to parents and educators that will extend the film going experience," said Granat. "`Because of Winn-Dixie,' which demonstrated to us Fox's willingness to embrace Walden as a member of the team, will serve as a model for all these productions."

The projects are in various stages of production and development.

"Because of Winn-Dixie"

"Because of Winn-Dixie," starring Jeff Daniels, Dave Matthews, Annasophia Robb, Eva Marie Saint, Elle Fanning and Cicely Tyson, is in post production. Joan V. Singleton adapted Kate DiCamillo's novel. Wayne Wang ("Maid in Manhattan," "The Joy Luck Club") will direct.

Based on the perennial best seller, a lonely young girl adopts an orphaned dog, Winn-Dixie (so named for the supermarket where she found him), who helps her make friends in a small Florida town. The bond between the girl and her special companion brings together the townspeople, and helps her mend her own troubled relationship with her father.

"Bridge to Terabithia"

Gabor Csupo (producer "Rugrats Go Wild!", "The Wild Thornberry's Movie") is on board to direct "Bridge to Terabithia" as his first live action project. Lauren Levine ("I Am David") will produce the film with the author's son, David Paterson.

Published in 1977 and translated into over two dozen languages to date, "Bridge to Terabithia" tells the powerful story of an eleven-year-old boy whose life is changed forever when he befriends the class outsider - who happens to be a girl. Together Jess and Leslie create the world of Terabithia, an imaginary kingdom filled with giants and trolls and all manner of magical beings. While the real world of family and school may be filled with difficulties, in Terabithia they rule as King and Queen. By the movie's end, they will have to pull all the strength they can from the great legacy of Terabithia in order to cope with an unexpected tragedy.

"The Giver"

Jeff Bridges is attached to produce, and Tony Alcott is writing the screenplay based on the beloved and Newbery Medal-winning young adult science fiction novel by Lois Lowry. "The Giver" is the riveting story of Jonas, a 12-year-old boy living in an idyllic future society where all memory of human history has been erased. The sole keeper of the vast range of human emotions that are unknown to the larger community is "The Giver," a man chosen as an adviser, whose unique access to knowledge isolates him from the rest of society. Jonas' simple life is thrown into turmoil when he is designated to inherit the Giver's dangerous yet prestigious role. Under The Giver's instruction, Jonas begins to learn increasingly chilling truths about the world he lives in. This growing knowledge sparks the flame of true rebellion in Jonas as he defies his society and risks his own life to save a child in jeopardy.

"Nim's Island"

Paula Mazur ("Corrina, Corrina") will produce "Nim's Island" and adapt the book with screenwriter Joe Kwong. Named one of the "Best Books for Children of 2001" by the Los Angeles Times, "Nim's Island" is a heartfelt and hilarious adventure that chronicles the exploits of Nim, a young girl living a high-tech Robinson Crusoe existence on an unspoiled tropical island with her scientist father and her best friends - a motherly sea lion, a rambunctious iguana, and a sea turtle. When Nim's father embarks on a day of research at sea, she begins an unlikely e-mail communication with an agoraphobic novelist who lives in New York City. When a storm prevents her father's return and unpredictable dangers confront Nim and the Island, she must find the resources to survive. At the same time, the novelist begins to realize that her pen pal is not a scientist, but a little girl who is alone and in trouble, she also has to dig down for the courage to leave her safe haven and rescue Nim.

"Biblionauts"

Susan Montford and Don Murphy are on board to develop "Biblionauts" into a series of motion pictures. Adam Mortimer, who created the pilot "Conspiracy 101" for MTV and will co-produce the film with Murphy and Montford, was developing the idea as a series of graphic novels when he submitted it to Montford, who took it to Walden Media.

The story focuses on two kids who stumble upon a device invented by an eccentric scientist that enables them to be transported into great works of fiction. The kids embark on a series of spectacular adventures only to realize that someone else is changing the outcome of these classic books and thus altering real world history. The kids must locate the reluctant inventor and team with him to stop the villain before he goes too far.

About Walden Media

Founded by Cary Granat, former president of Miramax Films' Dimension label, and leading educator Micheal Flaherty, Walden Media, a subsidiary of AFG, specializes in entertainment that sparks the imagination and curiosity of kids and provides parents and teachers with materials to continue the learning process. Partnered with The Walt Disney Company, Walden Media just released "Around the World in 80 Days" starring Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, Jim Broadbent, Cecile De France and a star-studded cast of cameos. Also with Disney, the company is producing the first live-action feature film adaptations of C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia," beginning with "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" to be directed by Andrew Adamson ("Shrek").

Twentieth Century Fox is a unit of Fox Filmed Entertainment, a unit of Fox Entertainment.
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Date:Jul 12, 2004
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