Walden Media, the film and television production company behind such box office hits as Chronicles of Narnia, has inked a multiyear deal with Penguin Young Readers Group that gives Walden the first-look opportunity at a certain number of Penguin titles annually while also creating a copublishing program between the two companies.

Doug Whiteman, president of Penguin Young Readers, said the most exciting aspect of the deal is that it gives Penguin authors, and would-be authors, a platform for developing their books into film and television projects. "If an editor has a book proposal that looks like it could make a good film, they now have somewhere to turn to immediately," Whiteman said. Several Penguin books are already under development at Walden, including Mike Lupica's Heat, Bob Fuller's Paddywhack Lane and Michael Reisman's The Teacher's Edition. Whiteman said that going forward, Walden executives will look at some book submissions together with Penguin and will contribute financing for certain projects.

Walden had been looking for a publishing partner since late last year, and Walden v-p of publishing Deborah Kovacs said they chose Penguin because of "the good chemistry between us in terms of what we've done and what we want to do." Kovacs said she didn't expect the Penguin deal to affect the company's ability to continue working with other houses. To facilitate interaction between Walden and Penguin, Kovacs will have an office in Penguin's New York headquarters and will be there several times a month to discuss acquisition and marketing ideas. The copublishing arrangement will cover a range of options. In some cases, Penguin will copublish the book that serves as the basis for the movie, as in the case of the first title, Jim Thorpe, Original All-American, which is being made into the Walden movie Carlisle School In other cases, Penguin will publish tie-in editions. All titles released under the copublishing deal will carry the Walden/Penguin brand.