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Julia Roberts To Lead Luca Guadagnino Thriller ‘After The Hunt’ For Amazon MGM Studios; Nora Garrett Scripting

EXCLUSIVE: After coming together at warp speed over the past month, the Imagine Entertainment package After the Hunt from screenwriter Nora Garrett has landed at Amazon MGM Studios with Julia Roberts attached to star and Luca Guadagnino on board to direct, Deadline hears.

Garrett penned the script, and Brian Grazer and Allan Mandelbaum will produce for Imagine Entertainment, with Call Me By Your Name Oscar nominee Guadagnino producing through his Frenesy banner. Garrett will also exec produce along with Imagine’s Karen Lunder.

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The film is an intense dramatic thriller about a college professor (Roberts) who finds herself at a personal and professional crossroads when a star pupil levels an accusation against one of her colleagues and a dark secret from her own past threatens to come to light. Allan Mandelbaum brought the script into Imagine and worked with CAA to get it to top talent like Guadagnino and Roberts.

Since landing at Imagine Entertainment, which has been developing it for some time, the spec has been one of the more talked-about scripts in recent memory, with several agents telling Deadline it’s one of the better scripts they’ve read since the writers strike ended. That led to a number of top-tier directors trying to get a meeting with Imagine co-founder Brian Grazer to get the job. Guadagnino locked up the directing gig after impressing Grazer with his take during a meeting before the Oscars.

Next up was locking in the talent, and while there are a number great roles in the script, the older professor role had every A-list actress lining up, with Roberts — fresh off another hit with Leave the World Behind — at the top of the list. Once Roberts gave her commitment, the package became red hot with several suitors chasing. But given the relationship Amazon MGM Studios has with Guadagnino, whose film Challengers is bowing next month for the studio, it made an aggressive bid that closed over the weekend.

The package is another example of how studios have been higher on specs and big packages since the dual strikes ended, rather than some of their development titles, and have shelling out big bucks to land these hot properties. One example is Amazon moving fast to land a new thriller from Bruna Papandrea that has Kim Kardashian attached to star.

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Landing so much talent in her first major sale is a massive deal for debut screenwriter Garrett, but as many around town have been saying, great scripts usually attract top talent.

Roberts is coming off one of her biggest hits in recent years with the Netflix thriller Leave the World Behind, which dominated the streamer’s most-watched chart during the holiday season. The film was directed by Sam Esmail and also starred Mahershala Ali and Ethan Hawke.

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Guadagnino continues to stay as busy as any director in town as his upcoming MGM Amazon Studios pic Challengers bows April 26. Buzz has been brewing on this one, even after it had to move to the spring because of the dual strikes, and anticipation has built off the talked-about performances of its leads Zendaya, Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist. Guadagnino also has his adaptation of Queer, starring Daniel Craig, bowing later this year.

All parties are represented by CAA. Garrett also is represented by Sydney Blanke at Fourth Wall Management and Yorn Levine, Guadagnino by Range and Goodman Genow and Roberts by Hirsch Wallenstein.

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