Can Gillian Flynn Repeat ‘Gone Girl’ Magic With ‘Dark Places’?

Source: 20th Century Fox

Source: 20th Century Fox

Novelist Gillian Flynn has already had great success in the fiction world with her gritty mysteries that challenge the conventions of the genre and have proved massively popular. Now, like many successful fiction writers, Flynn has her eye on the lucrative world of Hollywood. Her first film adaptation of her most popular novel Gone Girl was released this fall to much success both at the box office and with critics, but now the writer has to prove if further adaptations of her lesser known books can continue to make movie magic.

The film adaptation of Gone Girl was directed by David Fincher and stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as the central screwed-up couple. The movie has made $145 million domestically so far during its run in theaters on a budget of $61 million, according to Hollywood money-counter Box Office Mojo. The film has an 88% Fresh rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with critics saying that Fincher’s stylistic direction brought out the best in Pike and Affleck, while Flynn’s involvement was essential to the script. Gone Girl has a lot of Oscar buzz going in to awards season coming from all angles — acting, screenplay, and direction. Even if it doesn’t take home any Oscars, Gone Girl is a big success for Flynn to follow up with future movies adapted from her fiction.

The next planned adaptation from Flynn is for her novel Dark Places, which is about a woman who’s still coping with having witnessed and survived the brutal murder of her entire family when she was a child. The protagonist is forced to confront those memories head-on when a secret group obsessed with playing detective on unsolved crimes comes to her and tries to unravel what happened to her family.

The adaptation is being done by the French director Gilles Paquet-Brenner, who is directing Dark Places and wrote the adapted screenplay. Paquet-Brenner is known for the French thriller Pretty Things starring Marion Cotillard as opposed identical twin sisters and the drama Sarah’s Key. The director’s work has been well-received overseas — he’s won awards from the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Deauville Film Festival — but he isn’t a recognizable name in the U.S. like Fincher, so his name won’t be drawing the audience. Some of the success of the Gone Girl film was attributed to Flynn’s involvement in writing the script, so it also remains to be seen how adept Paquet-Brenner ends up being at adapting Flynn’s words to the screen.

As for the cast, like Gone Girl, Dark Places has an impressive lineup of stars. Oscar-winner and beautiful person Charlize Theron is set to star, with Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks playing her mother and Chloe Grace Moretz, Nicholas Holt, and Drea de Matteo rounding out the bill. Dark Places recently finished shooting in Shreveport, La., and will come out sometime next year.

Flynn isn’t ignoring television, either, as her novel Sharp Objects is being turned into a one-hour TV drama. The book is about a journalist who must confront some dark secrets from her past when she returns to her hometown to cover a murder. That project is still in the very early stages of development and it’s not known which network it will be on, nor who’s directing or starring in the show. Marti Noxon has signed on as the showrunner and writer.

Dark Places looks like it will help establish Flynn as a go-to source for material to turn into Hollywood mystery blockbusters. Though the film’s director isn’t very well-known, the A-list cast and the fact that it’s based on a best-selling novel will bring people into the theaters even if it doesn’t get as much initial buzz as Gone Girl. Flynn’s success with penning the script for Gone Girl (it’s been nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay) will also make her a viable option to adapt her own material, meaning there’s less likelihood of a bad writer coming in and writing a script that’s either bad or just not to her tastes. Looks for now like Flynn has a bright future in Tinseltown.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS

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