EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures and Scott Rudin Productions have optioned the Jeff VanderMeer novel Annihilation and the two subsequent books in what he is calling his Southern Reach trilogy. I’m told this was a sizable deal. Rudin and Eli Bush will produce.

World rights for the books were bought at auction by Sean McDonald at Farrar Straus & Giroux. The trilogy movie rights were optioned within hours in a deal negotiated by Joseph Veltre at Gersh, on behalf of Sally Harding at The Cooke Agency Inc.

Slated to be published early next year, Annihilation tells the story of a biologist who, in seeking answers to her husband’s tragic disappearance, volunteers for an expedition into an area sealed off by the government for the last 30 years as an environmental disaster zone. A secret agency known as the Southern Reach has sent in 11 expeditions over those years to discover the truth about Area X, and those attempts were failures. The tale is narrated by the biologist attached to the mission. She and her team find a pristine wilderness, but they also notice quickly that the rules of nature and evolution seem to work a little differently. And the creature they find is dangerous.

VanderMeer previously authored City Of Saints And Madmen.