EXCLUSIVE: In a near-seven-figure deal, DreamWorks has acquired Highway One, a spec script by The Shallows scribe Tony Jaswinski, with Denise Di Novi attached to direct the female action thriller. The film will be produced by Lynn Harris and Matti Leshem through their Weimaraner Republic banner.

The producers teamed with Jaswinski on The Shallows, the sleeper summer survival hit that starred Blake Lively going mano a mano against a killer shark. Highway One also has a female protagonist fighting for survival. A single mother, a retired soldier who returned from Afghanistan with combat skills as well as injuries and PTSD, must resort to extreme measures when her daughter is kidnapped during a cross country trip they take to start a new life.

When Leshem and Harris set up their company, they said they would prize female-driven thrillers, and they expect this to be the second one that will bear their company banner. The film is expected to follow a speedy track. Jaswinski shared his idea with the producers while they were working on the shark movie. It not only bears the elements for a taut thriller, it allows the heroine an opportunity for redemption after her life is shattered in pieces after her lover is killed in combat. The script was sent out last Friday, and by Monday morning, DreamWorks was moving quickly to take it off the market.

Women In Film Crystal and Lucy Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 15 Jun 2016
REX/Shutterstock

Leshem and Harris turned to Di Novi after seeing a cut of her directorial debut Unforgettable, which Warner Bros releases April 21 with Rosario Dawson and Katherine Heigl starring. Di Novi transitioned to directing after a top-flight career producing everything from Heathers to Batman Returns and Edward Scissorhands with Tim Burton, to Message In A Bottle and Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants. She’s exec producer of the TV adaptation of Beaches.

Jaswinski is repped by Paradigm, Circle of confusion and Lichter Grossman, while Di Novi is repped by CAA and Bloom Hergott. Weimaraner Republic is repped by Morris Yorn.