Columbia Pictures Goes for Maximum Ride

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Columbia Pictures has acquired screen rights to “Maximum Ride,” the best-selling young adult novel series by James Patterson, says Variety. The studio has hired Don Payne (Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, My Super Ex-Girlfriend) to write the script.

The protagonists are six children who have been genetically altered to be 98% human and 2% bird. The kids, who are bred to fly, escape a lab-rat existence and are then pursued by their scientist creators, who send a pack of part-human part-wolves called Erasers to hunt them down.

Seaside Entertainment’s Avi Arad, Ari Arad and Steven Paul will produce. Patterson will be executive producer.

After producing such Marvel fare as the “Spider-Man,” “X-Men” and “Fantastic Four” films as well as Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, Arad has hopes that Maximum Ride can hatch an original superhero franchise, with the elements of alienation and angst that resonate in those spandex-clad movie heroes.