Helmer to adapt Patricia Highsmith novel

Fox 2000 has set Mike Nichols to direct and Joe Penhall to write “Deep Water,” an adaptation of the 1957 Patricia Highsmith novel.

Penhall most recently adapted the Cormac McCarthy novel “The Road.” John Hillcoat directed the film, which stars Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron.

“Deep Water” will be a co-production of Film Rites and Film 360, the film production division of Management 360. Steve Zaillian, Nichols and Ben Forkner will produce.

Guymon Casady and Garrett Basch are executive producers.

Highsmith wrote the thrillers “Strangers on a Train” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” In “Deep Water,” a couple in a loveless marriage hang on through an arrangement whereby the husband permits the wife to take lovers. Suspense builds as those lovers begin dying.

In landing Nichols, Fox 2000’s Elizabeth Gabler and Carla Hacken continue their momentum of attracting top-tier filmmakers to their projects. The duo also developed the Jonathan Tropper script for “Harvey,” to which Steven Spielberg committed as his next film, a co-production between Fox and DreamWorks (Daily Variety, Aug. 3).

Nichols is repped by CAA, Zaillian by WME

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