EXCLUSIVE: Star Wars lead Daisy Ridley has been set to star in the movie adaptation of hit psychological-thriller novel The Marsh King’s Daughter, we can reveal.

Limitless and Divergent filmmaker Neil Burger is newly aboard to direct the film, which heralds from Black Bear, Anonymous Content and STX International, which will be selling the hot package at the upcoming virtual EFM.

Ridley will star as Helena, a woman living a seemingly ordinary life, but hiding a dark secret: her father is the infamous “Marsh King,” the man who kept her and her mother captive in the wilderness for years. After a lifetime of trying to escape her past, Helena is forced to face her demons when her father unexpectedly escapes from prison.

Karen Dionne’s novel has been adapted for the screen by The Revenant screenwriter Mark L. Smith and Elle Smith. Principal photography is due to get underway this summer in Canada.

Black Bear Pictures’ Teddy Schwarzman (The Imitation Game), Anonymous Content’s Keith Redmon (The Revenant) and Mark L. Smith will produce. Black Bear will finance. STX will distribute in the UK, Ireland and India. CAA Media Finance is handling U.S. rights.

The film has been a long-time passion project for the producers, which initially brought it to market in 2018 in a different configuration. Ridley and Burger should provide the rocket fuel to get it to screen.

Star Wars and Murder On The Orient Express actress Ridley will next to be seen in Doug Liman’s big-canvas sci-fi Chaos Walking.

Burger is well known for directing Divergent, which grossed more than $300M, Limitless, and the The Illusionist. His most recent film, The Upside, grossed more than $100M in North America and was the director’s third number one opening in a row. On the TV side, Burger directed and executive-produced the first two episodes of Billionsfor Showtime.

STX’s movies in production include Guy Ritchie’s Jason Statham action pic currently shooting in the Middle East, JD Dillard’s Korean war epic Devotion (you can read our deep dive on the project here) and Cop Shop, directed by Joe Carnahan and starring Gerard Butler.

The Marsh King’s Daughter falls under the output deal between Black Bear and STX. STXinternational sells and distributes all Black Bear productions overseas, with Black Bear’s sister company, Elevation Pictures, distributing all STX productions and acquisitions in Canada.

Black Bear’s slate includes Martin Campbell’s upcoming thriller Memory starring Liam Neeson and J Blakeson’s upcoming dark thriller I Care A Lot, starring Rosamund Pike who was recently nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress.

Ridley is represented by CAA; Burger is represented by CAA and attorney Carlos Goodman; and Smith is represented by CAA, Syndicate Entertainment, Anonymous Content, and attorney Mark Temple.

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