Philip Anschutz's Walden Media has left Disney for Fox, reports VARIETY. The AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS producer will team with Fox on five features, including Kate DiCamillo's BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE (due for release January 2005); Katherine Paterson's BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA; Lois Lowry's THE GIVER; Wendy Orr's NIM'S ISLAND; and Adam Mortimer's as-yet-unpublished comicbook proposal BIBLIONAUTS. Unlike the past Disney deal, the Fox agreement is neither exclusive nor constrained by time limits.
WINN-DIXIE is in post-production. Joan V. Singleton adapted DiCamillo's novel, which Wayne Wang (THE JOY LUCK CLUB) directed. Klasky Csupo head Gabor Csupo is attached to direct BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA, which will be his first live-action project. This film moves ahead of his plans to direct GREEN MONKEYS for Paramount Pictures. Lauren Levine (I AM DAVID) will produce the film with the author's son, David Paterson. Jeff Bridges will produce THE GIVER, with Todd Alcott (ANTZ) adapting the screenplay based on Lois Lowry's Newbery Medal-winning young-adult sci-fi novel. Paula Mazur (CORRINA, CORRINA) is set to produce NIM'S ISLAND as well as adapt the book with screenwriter Joe Kwong. Susan Montford and Don Murphy will produce the hopeful franchise BIBLIONAUTS.
Under Walden former deal with Disney, the two companies produced HOLES based on Louis Sachar's children's book, and James Cameron's 3D underwater exploration documentary GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS. Disney's distribution of AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS was outside of the two-year pact and the new deal with Fox will not affect Disney and Walden's co-production of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE.