Variety reports this morning that Justin Cronin's pseudonymous vampire trilogy, which starts with the novel The Passage, was snapped up by Fox 2000 and Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions. Variety describes it as a "seven-figure deal" in which Fox 2000 beat out three other studios, but that doesn't tell the whole story. We hear that when agent Rich Green at CAA opened the bidding, he was asking for $3 million for an outright purchase of the rights, as opposed to an option. We're told three studios — Universal (who, early in the process, could not decide between producers Marc Platt and Brian Grazer), Sony (with Scott Rudin and Sam Raimi), and Warner Brothers (with Akiva Goldsman) — were in the middle of an auction, with numbers hovering near $1.25 million, when Fox 2000 swooped in, offered $1.75 million, and plucked it off the table.
Most of our sources speculate that number, despite being lower than what Green hoped for, was for an outright purchase of the complete trilogy. So counting his handsome book deal with Ballantine, that brings Cronin's take — for an idea that his 10-year-old daughter inspired him to write — to a cool $5.5 million, minus agents' commissions but not including foreign rights. All over the United States right now, mid-list literary novelists are following their children around, asking, "Think of a high-concept idea yet?"