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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Spielberg Digs Up Clues


Steven Spielberg is having a Clues encounter of the 39 kind.

The Oscar-winning filmmaker is pumping up his already crowded slate with another would-be blockbuster. DreamWorks has acquired the big-screen rights to The 39 Clues, a multiplatform adventure series hitting stores in September from Scholastic Media—a publisher that knows a thing or two about launching mega-franchises, having foisted a little something called Harry Potter on us Yanks.

As first reported in Variety, Spielberg will produce the film and could also direct should one of several other projects he's been developing fail to get off the ground. A search is already under way for a screenwriter to adapt the franchise.

Scholastic will roll out Clues over a period of two years, beginning with the first installment, The Maze of Bones. Nine other literary adventures are expected to follow, accompanied by a set of collectible cards and an online game that will run for two years and give Netizens the chance to solve a mystery and win a $10,000 grand prize.

"The 39 Clues takes creative leaps to expand the story experience from the pages of the books to multiple stages of discovery and imagination," Spielberg said in a statement.

The franchise centers around the most powerful family in the world, the Cahills, whose relatives include Napoleon and Houdini. In the first book, Cahill matriarch Grace alters her will at the last minute to give her descendants a choice: Either accept $1 million or receive one of 39 clues hidden around the globe that will reveal the source of the family's power.

Based on Maze of Bones author Rick Riordan's outline for the 10-book series, there would be enough material for as many as three or four movies.

After reviving Indiana Jones last month to the delight of moviegoers and his accountant (the sequel has grossed nearly $400 million worldwide and counting), Spielberg has plenty in the pipeline.

The pending projects include The Trial of the Chicago 7, chronicling the 1968 protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and the high-profile conspiracy trial that followed; Lincoln, a presidential biopic starring Liam Neeson; and two Tintin adventures he's developing with Peter Jackson.