EXCLUSIVE: Working Title has optioned rights to best-selling author Ruth Ware’s haunted house thriller The Turn of the Key.
Max Minghella (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Jamie Bell (Rocketman) have signed on to write the screen adaptation of Ware’s successful fifth novel, which tells the story of a young woman who stumbles across an ad to take on a position as a live-in nanny at a high-tech ‘smart’ house in the Scottish Highlands.
In spite of the extremely generous salary, a beautiful location, an incredible home and the seemingly picture-perfect family, it soon becomes clear that all is not what it seems.
The project, which marks Bell’s screenwriting debut, will be produced by Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. Amelia Granger, Head of Film and TV, and Alexandra Loewy, President of Film US, will oversee development on the project on behalf of Working Title.
In a competitive pitch process, Ruth Ware’s deal was negotiated by The Gotham Group on behalf of Eve White Literary Agency. The writer’s thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Lying Game have all been previously optioned for screen adaptations.
The Social Network star Minghella made his screenwriting debut on the Miramax thriller The 9th Life of Louis Drax, directed by Alexandre Aja, which he also produced via his company Blank Tape. He made his directorial debut on Teen Spirit which he also wrote and was executive produced by Bell. He currently stars in Hulu’s Emmy-winning series The Handmaid’s Tale and can next be seen on the big screen in Damien Chazelle’s 1920’s Hollywood drama Babylon.
Bell will soon star in and co-produce Fred & Ginger for Amazon Studios and Automatik which Minghella will executive-produce under his Blank Tape banner. Bell’s recent credits include Without Remorse in which he starred opposite Michael B. Jordan and the Elton John biopic Rocketman. The BAFTA-winning Billy Elliot actor recently wrapped production on the Western Surrounded and is currently filming Apple series The Shining Girls starring Elisabeth Moss.
Working Title’s upcoming film slate includes Last Night in Soho directed by Edgar Wright starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie and Matt Smith; Cyrano, directed by Joe Wright starring Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Ben Mendelsohn; and What’s Love Got to Do With It (working title), written by Jemima Khan and directed by Shekhar Kapur, starring Lily James, Shazad Latif and Emma Thompson. Also in production this year is Catherine, Called Birdy, written and directed by Lena Dunham, staring Bella Ramsey, Andrew Scott and Billie Piper; and The Swimmers, written by Jack Thorne and Sally El Hosaini and directed by Hosaini.
Commenting on the deal, Ware said: “Working Title have been responsible for some of my favourite on-screen characters and stories, so I am completely thrilled that The Turn of the Key has found a home with them, and I can’t wait to watch them bring their trademark creative flair and breadth of imagination to the project.”
The Turn of the Key was published by Penguin Books imprint Vintage in the UK and Simon & Schuster’s Scout imprint in North America.
Minghella is repped by CAA and Anonymous Content. Bell is repped by UTA and 3 Arts Entertainment.