David Fincher’s adaptation of twisty missing person thriller Gone Girl was a huge success both critically and commercially when it arrived in theaters last fall, starring Ben Affleck as a man who finds himself becoming the prime suspect in the court of public opinion after his wife vanishes from their home in a small, financially struggling Missouri town. Gillian Flynn, who wrote the novel upon which the film is based, also adapted her story into the film’s screenplay.
Moviegoers who enjoyed Gone Girl will no doubt be happy to hear that the dream team of Affleck, Fincher and Flynn is getting back together for another thriller. This time, however, it’s not one of Flynn’s stories that’s getting the movie treatment, but Patricia Highsmith’s 1950 novel “Strangers on a Train”, which was famously adapted for the screen by Alfred Hitchcock shortly after the book’s publication.
This news comes via a Deadline report, which states that Warner Bros. has given the new version the simpler title Strangers and tapped Fincher to direct it, with Affleck playing the protagonist and Flynn in talks to write the screenplay. It also seems that the plot of the new film will be slightly different from that of Hitchcock’s tale; the main character is a movie star in the middle of an Oscar campaign, rather than a famous tennis player, and the crucial journey takes place on a plane instead of a train. It’s probably just as well that Warner Bros. is keeping the title simple, since Strangers on a Plane sounds a bit too much like another famous movie.
In the 1951 adaptation of Highsmith’s story, Farley Granger played the tennis player, Guy Haines, who yearns to be rid of his cheating wife so that he can be free to marry a senator’s daughter. While on a train journey he meets a charming psychopath called Bruno (Robert Walker) who happens to want his own father killed. Bruno cheerfully suggests that they “criss-cross” murders in order to get away with the killings and Guy accidentally gives the impression that he agrees to this plan. From there, things go quickly downhill.
Affleck is also producing the movie through his banner Pearl Street, and Edge of Tomorrow producer Jon Berg is overseeing the project for Warner Bros. Both the director and the star are busy with other projects now, so don’t be surprised if Strangers doesn’t begin production until at least the end of 2015.
Given how the plot has been partially changed, it’s also possible that the murder targets could be different as well. For example, the movie star’s object of loathing could be someone standing in the way of him winning the Oscar, rather than just a burdensome wife. Since Fincher is trying to follow in the footsteps of Hitchcock, making changes to the story for the new version is probably a good way to go.
We’ll keep you updated on Strangers as development continues.