EXCLUSIVE: 2oth Century Fox is closing on a deal that will have Ben Affleck directing and starring in Witness For The Prosecution, an adaptation of the Agatha Christie short story and play that first hit the big screen in 1957. Christopher Keyser will write the script, and Affleck will produce with Jennifer Todd, Matt Damon and the Agatha Christie estate. Billy Wilder directed a screen adaptation in 1957 that starred Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton, and that film got six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor and Actress and Best Director.

witness
United Artists

Laughton played a lawyer who represents a man (Power) accused of murdering a wealthy widow with whom she became so infatuated that she left him her estate. The suspect’s wife (Dietrich), while initially unable to testify against her husband, is called as a witness for the prosecution because she was married to another man when she wed the defendant. She fingers him for the murder, to clear her conscience. Twists and turns unfold from there, as one would expect in an Agatha Christie whodunit.

Affleck last directed the Best Picture winner Argo, and wrapped Live By Night for Warner Bros, his adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel. He’s co-writing to direct the next stand-alone Batman movie and became involved as an exec producer of the Justice League film, starring in the spandex ensemble. He next stars in the Gavin O’Connor-directed The Accountant, which Warner Bros opens October 14. He’s repped by WME.

Keyser, who has been immersed as executive producer of the FX series Tyrant, is repped by CAA.