EXCLUSIVE: In a battle that played out all day among four bidders, Brad Weston’s newly launched Makeready won rights to adapt the Matthew Baker short story The Appearance. Ian MacAllister-McDonald, who wrote the true-crime thriller Rodney and Cheryl, will write the script, and The Picture Company partners Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman will produce with Pam Abdy, who was key to securing the deal at  Makeready. The rights deal was six figures against seven figures.

The story by Baker, whose short Transition sold to Amazon with Noah Hawley, has the makings of a genre film with a topical message about the refugee crisis. The sci-fi story is about alien life forms who look very much like humans and appear mysteriously on Earth. The story follows the first “Appearance” and the divided human reaction to it. It is said to hold the potential for an Arrival or District 9-type film.

This becomes another deal for Makeready, the indie studio started by Weston in film, TV and digital content with funding from eOne, which releases the films in its international territories. Makeready’s first picture in production will be A Million Little Pieces, an adaptation of the James Frey book to be directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and star Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Makeready will fully fund the film, with Sierra/Affinity handling international.

The other suitors for the project in the auction were Sony, which had Thor: Ragnarok writer Chris Yost and producer Matt Tolmach; Sam Raimi for Paramount Players, and Netflix with producer Debbie Liebling.

CAA brokered the deals, and Industry Entertainment manages McDonald.