EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures is moving forward with Jagged Edge, the thriller being crafted for Halle Berry to play the heroine lawyer role originated by Glenn Close in the 1985 hit. The studio has hired Melissa London Hilfers to write the script, and Doug Belgrad’s 2.0 Entertainment banner has been set to co-finance the film. Belgrad is producing with Matti Leshem.
Scott Strauss is supervising for the studio. Creative Executive Michael Bitar is also working on the project.
The project was set up in April by Steven Bersch, the Sony Worldwide Acquisitions Group head who took over the genre arm Screen Gems. They haven’t figured out which arm will release it, but it’s a priority project. Hilfers sold her spec Unfit to Amazon Studios as a potential vehicle for Dakota Johnson, a fact-based tale about Carrie Buck, a young Virginia woman who became a lightning rod for the movement to eliminate the “unfit” from our country and was forced to fight singlehandedly against it for the one thing she desperately wanted – to be a mother. Hilfers also sold Undone, a legal thriller compared to Gone Girl meets Primal Fear, to Parkes + MacDonald and Black Bear.
She seems a strong fit for Jagged Edge, given that she was a litigation lawyer for Cravath, Swaine & Moore before she switched to screenwriting. Hilfers also is writing Fusion Boy for Chernin Entertainment and Fox. She’s repped by UTA and Alan Gasmer and Friends.
Directed by Richard Marquand from a Joe Eszterhas script, the original Jagged Edge starred Close, Jeff Bridges and Robert Loggia, the latter of whom got an Oscar nomination. A San Francisco heiress is brutally murdered in her remote beach house, and her handsome newspaper publisher husband Jack is accused of committing the gruesome crime. He hires lawyer Teddy Barnes to defend him, and their chemistry spills into an affair. Even though the lawyer is falling in love, she can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t quite right with the case, with the killer sending anonymous notes pecked out on an old typewriter. Is Jack the key to a happy future for the lawyer if she can get him acquitted, or is he a sociopath? The original was released when sexually charged whodunits were the rage, and it made Eszterhas the highest-paid screenwriter of his era.