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Columbia Buys A Maximum Ride

Columbia Pictures has purchased the screen rights to MAXIMUM RIDE, and has hired Don Payne to write the script, per VARIETY.

RIDE is a young adult novel series from James Patterson, featuring six children who have been genetically altered to be 98 percent human, 2 percent bird. The kids, bred to fly, escape their lab-rat existence and are pursued by their scientist creators, who send a pack of part-human, part-wolf creatures called Erasers to track them down.

The fifth installment of the book series will be published in 2009.

Seaside Ent.'s Avi Arad, Ari Arad and Steven Paul will produce; Patterson will exec produce. James Patterson Ent.'s Steve Bowen and Leopoldo Gout will co-produce.

Arad, after producing Marvel fare SPIDER-MAN, X-MEN and FANTASTIC FOUR as well as this year's IRON MAN and THE INCREDIBLE HULK, hopes to turn RIDE into a new superhero franchise, complete with the themes of alienation and angst that resonate amongst the established heroes.

"The MAXIMUM RIDE books use man-made mutation as a metaphor of humans trying to take advantage of human frailty and interfere with nature," Avi Arad told VARIETY.

Payne's film credits include FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER and MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND.