EXCLUSIVE: Focus Features has acquired screen rights to the upcoming Kevin Wignall novel To Die in Vienna, and will turn it into the Jake Gyllenhaal star vehicle Welcome to Vienna. Gyllenhaal will produce through his production company Nine Stories alongside Riva Marker. Nine Stories exec veep Annie Marter will be exec producer.
The novel will be published by Thomas & Mercer in June. The pic is contemporized, but the tone feels like a throwback to paranoid thrillers like The Conversation. Gyllenhaal will play Freddie Makin, a civilian surveillance contractor who for the past year has been watching Jiang Cheng, a Chinese academic in Vienna. When Freddie returns home early one day with a migraine, he interrupts a break-in at his apartment. The intruder escapes, but then comes back and tries to kill him. From that moment on, the contractor realizes he is a hunted man who clearly saw something he shouldn’t have. He realizes that he not only doesn’t know who is trying to kill him or why, he doesn’t really even know who is actually employing him. When Cheng also disappears, Freddie gets the first indications that it might be the CIA trying to shut him down. His only hope for survival is that they don’t know the whole truth about Freddie Makin either, or about the past he’s running away from.
Wignall, the bestselling author of nine novels, is represented by ICM Partners and Gelfman/Schneider.
Nine Stories most recently produced the Gyllenhaal-starrer Stronger, and the Paul Dano-directed Wildlife. That film premiered at Sundance and stars Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan.