April 27, 2010 / 5:53 AM / 9 years ago

James Patterson's "Maximum Ride" airborne again

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - “Maximum Ride” has a new destination.

Crime writer James Patterson’s six-book series aimed at young adults, which was mothballed by Columbia after a year of development, is close to being snapped up by Universal. Catherine Hardwicke (“Twilight”) remains attached to direct.

The books chronicle six teens known as the Flock who are genetically altered so they are part human and part bird. Learning to fly, they escape the laboratory where they have been housed and are pursued by a pack of creatures called the Erasers that are part human and part wolf.

It’s easy to see why “Ride” won’t be homeless for long as it has what almost every studio is searching for nowadays: it’s teen-centric, meaning that costs can be kept low while still appealing to the Facebook-Twitter crowd; it’s got the trendy elements of superpowers, supernatural and super-science; it’s got franchise potential; and it’s got a built-in awareness.

So why did Columbia abandon it? Some observers point out that the studio already has several youth-skewing franchises in the works and is throwing its weight behind the “Spider-Man” reboot — which will be more teen-centric than the previous trilogy — and a relaunch of “Ghostbusters,” which will feature a new generation of, well, ghostbusters. The studio also is working on a movie version of “Goosebumps.”

By acquiring “Ride,” Universal will join the teen-franchise sphere and be with the director of “Twilight,” the movie that originated the trend. Summit, the company that made “Twilight,” has several other youth-oriented projects in development; DreamWorks is weeks away from principal photography on “I Am Number Four,” which adapts a young-adult book series centering on an alien teen hiding out in high school.

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