Guillermo del Toro to produce thriller adaptation

Universal has tapped “The Orphanage” helmer Juan Antonio Bayona to direct “Hater,” the Glen Mazzara-scripted adaptation of British author David Moody’s thriller novel about an epidemic of violence perpetrated by ordinary people.

Bayona, who will make his English-language debut with “Hater,” reunites with Guillermo del Toro, who is producing the film with Mark Johnson.

Del Toro produced “The Orphanage,” which was made in Bayona’s home country of Spain on a modest budget and grossed more than $76 million worldwide.

“Hater” landed at Universal under del Toro’s first-look deal there. Mazzara, a writer on “The Shield,” was set at that time. Del Toro was originally approached by Johnson to direct, but his schedule on two installments of “The Hobbit” made that impossible. The producers then turned to Bayona.

“I like the idea of a movie that talks about the state of fear we live in nowadays,” Bayona told Daily Variety.

The film is set in the U.S., and while exteriors will be shot locally when the film gets under way next year, Johnson hopes to shoot the interiors in Spain.

Exec producer on the pic is Gary Ungar.

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