Back in August we reported that Darren Aronofsky had briefly emerged from deep in Noah's post-production to attach himself to Fox's spy thriller Red Sparrow. Disappointingly, however, the director has now given up on the negotiations, and will not be behind the cameras on the Peter Chernin-produced project after all. He'll have to find something else to occupy his post-Noah attention, although we don't imagine his drawer of potential future scripts is empty.
Fox bought Jason Matthews’ novel last spring, snatching the rights after a bidding war against several other studios. The plot that got everyone so excited finds intelligence officer Dominika Egorova fighting to survive in the tough bureaucracy of present-day Russia’s secret services. She’s drafted against her will to become a “sparrow”: an agent who must gather information out of US counterparts using any methods necessary, including seduction.
Her first assignment is fresh-faced CIA agent Nathaniel Nash, and the two young intelligence operatives find themselves fighting attraction as well as each other. Things get even more complicated when Dominika is recruited by the CIA to find a high-level traitor in Washington before returning home to work for Vladimir Putin’s own security service.
Producing alongside Chernin are Film Rites' Garrett Basch and high-profile screenwriter Steve Zaillian. The possible sticking point that caused Aronofsky to move on is that Zaillian, in this instance, is not on screenplay duties, meaning that for all the studio's enthusiasm for the project, it still doesn't have a script, or anyone attached to come up with one.
Red Sparrow remains in development, with that issue of actually adapting the twisty novel likely now to be addressed with some urgency. The Hollywood Reporter speculates that Aronofsky may even return to the project once its a slightly more tangible proposal. In the meantime, his Noah is out in the UK on March 28.