In what is believed to be one of the biggest deals in AFM history, Fox has picked up US and remaining territories to IM Global’s marquee sales title at the market.

IM Global head Stuart Ford closed the deal following a weekend of frantic interest from other studios in the $65m BBC Earth and Evergreen Films production that Reliance Entertainment is financing.

Fox is lining up the dramatised prehistoric tale for a 2013 tentpole release and will also distribute in all remaining territories where Ford and his president of sales and distribution Jonathan Deckter had not already closed significant deals.

The studio will also distribute in the UK, France, Japan, Australia and Latin America.

IM Global sold rights at AFM to Constantin in Germany, Aurum in Spain Dutch FilmWorks in Benelux and Alliance in Canada. Reliance will distribute in India.

The project will be co-directed by Pierre De Lespinois of Los Angeles, Alaska-based 3D producer Evergreen Films and BBC Earth’s Neil Nightingale, formerly the head of the BBC Natural History Unit.

BBC Earth and Evergreen Films will work with acclaimed animation house Animal Logic (Happy Feet) and animation producer Jinko Gotoh (9, Finding Nemo).

The story tells of a migrating dinosaur family, torn apart and then reunited during the Cretaceous period 70m years ago. The film will use groundbreaking LIDAR (light, detection and ranging) technology to combine live action and animation, as well as groundbreaking 3D camera and pre-vis systems.

The Walking With Dinosaurs television series was first broadcast in 1999 and drew more than 700m viewers worldwide. It was followed by three specials and has since spawned more than 70 licensed publications, consumer and educational products around the world including a live arena show that has grossed more than $200m in the past three years.

The BBC will support the theatrical release with a global merchandising push.