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New Line Cinema and Reese Witherspoon’s Pacific Standard have picked up 2015’s breakout summer read, IN A DARK, DARK WOOD. The Tracking Board exclusively reported on the hot novel last month, when several studios were making offers. We now can confirm that New Line won out, with Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea coming on to produce under their Pacific Standard banner. Ellen Goldsmith-Vein is also producing for The Gotham Group, while Andrea Johnston, Richard Brener, and Walter Hamada oversee for New Line.
The debut novel of Ruth Ware, In A Dark, Dark Wood hit shelves on August 4th, via Gallery/Scout Press. The taut mystery, which has received favorable comparisons to smash hit thrillers like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, was an instant NY Times, LA Times, and USA Today bestseller. The heavily buzzed-about read topped “best summer books” lists from Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, BookReporter, Amazon, and Publishers’ Weekly.
In the mold of the works of Agatha Christie, the novel centers on reclusive crime writer Lenora Shaw, who reluctantly accepts her old friend’s invitation to spend the weekend together in an eerie glass house, hidden away in the English countryside. Forty-eight hours later, she awakens in a hospital with injuries and no memory of what occurred, though armed with the bitter knowledge that someone is dead. She then sets out to discover the truth about the weekend’s events by uncovering secrets and hidden agendas, forced to revisit haunting aspects of her past that she wished to keep buried.
Praised as a tense and complex slow-burn, In A Dark, Dark Wood is the latest electrifying thriller to be set for a film adaptation. Following David Fincher’s hugely successful Gone Girl adaptation, The Girl on the Train was picked up by DreamWorks and will soon start shooting, with Emily Blunt, Rebecca Fergusan, and Haley Bennett starring. Agatha Christie’s classic mystery And Then There Were None was just last week set up by 20th Century Fox, with Morten Tyldum directing.
In A Dark, Dark Wood already has the makings to replicate the success of Gone Girl, especially with Pacific Standard shepherding. Witherspoon and Papandrea, who both produced Gone Girl, are also behind a slew of high-profile book sales all over town, with Opening Belle set at Warner Bros., Napkin Notes also at New Line, and Ashley’s War at Fox 2000.
Pacific Standard, which in the last two years has established a staggering laundry list of studio sales, most recently set up the thriller All Is Not Forgotten at Warner Bros., an adaptation of the book by Wendy Walker to be published in 2017.
Clark Allen | Associate Editor