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"DEADSPACE" PLOTS FEATURE COURSE

While 3-D films have made the biggest splash at Comic-Con, videogame companies have found fertile ground to make feature deals for their top-selling games. Studio appetite for branded thrill rides has given the game companies increasing clout and creative control, and companies like Electronic Arts are showing the patience to make deals that permit them real influence over the pictures.   

The newest deal on the horizon is a live action adaptation of the terrifying Electronic Arts vidgame “Deadspace,”  which is fast coming together as a scifi-horror film property that will be developed by D.J. Caruso, director of “Eagle Eye” and “Disturbia.”

EA will produce the film with Temple Hill partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey. 

The producers, EA and Caruso have been listening to takes from prospective screenwriters. Only after they set a writer and EA signs off on a creative direction, will they auction the property to studios. That will likely happen in early September.

Last time EA came to the marketplace with a fleshed-out property, it was the journey-through-the-layers-of-hell game “Dante’s Interno,”  an auction that sparked a four-studio bidding battle before Universal emerged with the property in a deal worth seven-figures. 

“Deadspace” has a storyline that seems ready made for feature treatment.

Set in deep space in the 26th Century, the thriller focuses on an engineer who responds to a distress signal from a mining ship, only to find it infested with monstrous creatures called Necromorphs, human corpses that have been re-animated by an alien virus. The engineer and his team retrofit most of their weapons from tools on the mining ship, and try to stay alive long enough to discover the “hive mind” that is controlling the creatures. 

"The best games have gotten to the point where they mirror the cinematic experience, and `Deadspace' is an example of a game that is actually truly terrifying to play," said Bowen. "We want to duplicate that same experience in the theater."

EA launched the game in 2008, and is working on the second and third installments. “Deadspace” becomes the fifth EA title percolating as feature properties. Aside from the “Dante’s Inferno” film that will be produced by Strike Entertainment partners Eric Newman and Marc Abraham, EA is also in business with Universal on “Army of Two,” with Scott Z Burns (“The Bourne Ultimatum”) scripting and Scott Stuber producing. EA's “The Sims” is being developed by producer John Davis and “Mass Effect” by "Spider-Man" producer Avi Arad.

Temple Hill’s Bowen and Godfrey are also producing “Gears of War,” a live action adaptation of the Microsoft and Epic Games’ vidgame for New Line, with Len Wiseman attached to direct and Chris Morgan writing the script.

Caruso is also developing “Defender,” the Gary Witta-scripted DreamWorks drama that is being produced by Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci.

EA’s repped by UTA and attorney David Fox, while Caruso’s repped by CAA and Media Talent Group.

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The Authors

Peter Bart is the editorial director and vice president of Variety.
Michael Fleming has been a Variety reporter since 1990 and is based in New York.