EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures has adopted Clifford The Big Red Dog, after Universal Pictures put the pooch to the curb. Paramount sparked to a pitch by Justin Malen, who’ll write the script for a film that will be a live-action/CG hybrid.

Universal had developed it for years, and even once dated the picture for release in early 2016. When Silvertongue Films’ Deb Forte decided to take the material in a new direction, Universal let the option lapse. Clifford was launched in 1963 as a book series that follows the adventures of Emily Elizabeth, a young denizen of a rural island community who gets a red puppy for her birthday that grows to the rather unusual size of 25 feet tall. It spawned an animated PBS series.

justin malen photo
Justin Malen

Malen’s scripting credits include a trio of films that are in postproduction: the Larry Sher-directed Bastards, which stars Owen Wilson and Ed Helms for Montecito and Warner Bros, a script Malen sold as a spec; he also did rewrite work on Paramount’s Baywatch and the DreamWorks pic Office Christmas Party.

Malen is repped by Verve, DMG Entertainment and McKuin, Frankel & Whitehead.