Universal Pictures has inked a three-year first look production deal with Scholastic Inc. and Deborah Forte to develop and produce live-action features from the publisher’s well known titles.  Currently in development at the studio is a big screen version of Scholastic’s Clifford, The Big Red Dog and The 39 Clues, with Forte serving as producer on both.

The deal was announced today by Universal’s Co-Presidents of Production Jeffrey Kirschenbaum and Peter Cramer.

deborah forteIn connection with the new pact, Forte is establishing Silvertongue Films, a new production label under which she will produce the feature slate of selected Scholastic properties.  In turning her attention toward producing on a full-time basis, Forte will relinquish her role as President of Scholastic Media and open Silvertongue offices in Los Angeles and New York.  Forte has a long resume when it comes to producing children’s TV and film.  Her executive producer credits include the TV adaptations of such book series as Goosebumps, The Baby-Sitters Club, Animorphs  as well as Clifford the Big Red Dog. Her film producer credits include The Golden Compass ($372M worldwide), Sony’s October live-action release of Goosebumps with Jack Black as R.L. Stine and Clifford’s Really Big Movie. 

This is the second publisher production deal that Universal has made since September when it signed a two-year first look deal with Penguin Random House.

“Scholastic has had tremendous success developing children’s books into recognized global brands,” said Kirschenbaum in a statement.  “We’re thrilled to be entering into partnerships with them and with Deborah, who has a vast knowledge and familiarity with the Scholastic library and can help us turn some of these stories into great family films.”

scholastic“Being in business with Universal Pictures enables Scholastic to develop great films with one of the premier film studios and it also provides us access to the strong global connections to families throughout NBCUniversal networks including theme parks, television, consumer products and more,” added Richard Robinson, Chairman and CEO of Scholastic.  “Movies today play an important and memorable role in the lives of the families and children that we serve.  Working with Universal, together with Deborah on some of our most successful properties, will enable Scholastic to extend our rich library of titles to and beyond our current readership.”

“I am excited about this new venture with Dick and Scholastic to focus on producing movies based on a selection of Scholastic’s treasured book series alongside some of the most talented executives in the film business,” said Forte.  “This alliance represents a significant opportunity to add value to Scholastic and Universal’s portfolios while I get to do what I love most with properties I have helped to build over the years.  I am most fortunate to be able to work even more closely with the Universal team which consistently demonstrates great taste, brilliant marketing, and a respect for filmmakers and outstanding content.”