Rights deal followed King's usual movie rate, $1 against a seven-figure purchase price with enhancements built in.
King's novel is a throwback to his early apocalyptic horror novels. In a single moment, a pulse sent out through cell phones around the world turns every phone user into a crazed, murderous zombie.
Mike Fleiss and Chris Briggs, who with Roth produced "Hostel" and are readying the sequel, will produce "Cell."
Deal marks Dimension's second deal with King, as the studio prepares to cast the Mikael Hafstrom-directed adaptation of the King novella "1408," which Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski adapted. Dimension topper Bob Weinstein said the fast progress to production on that thriller helped the studio's cause with King's new bestseller.
"The combination of technology and horror is fun high-concept," Weinstein said. "And Eli will make it right after he finishes 'Hostel 2.' "
Roth wants to write the pic or co-write it, depending on the time constraints created by his horror sequel, which shoots in Prague.
Roth first dialed in with Bob and Harvey Weinstein when they were pitched "Hostel" by exec producer Quentin Tarantino. The brothers felt the film was too violent, but Roth said they told him later they'd made a mistake and they were determined to get the next one.
Roth said King is his favorite writer and accepted right after reading the book.
"I couldn't put it down. It was such a balls-out horror movie with a smart take on the zombie genre," Roth said.
Project will be steered by Dimension production head Richard Saperstein, senior veep Matt Stein and Brendan Deneen, with CAA repping both the book and director.
Thanks to Bev Vincent