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'Basic Instinct' Scribe Joe Eszterhas Makes Return With Erotic Thriller 'Lust' (Exclusive)

Joe Eszterhas
Susan Biddle/The Washington Post/Getty Images

The film, a cross between "Instinct" and Fatal Attraction," revolves around a married 30-year-old beauty who is seduced by a younger charming playboy.

Joe Eszterhas is back.

The man who turned sexual thriller into its own genre with films such as Basic Instinct and brought sizzle to the screen with movies ranging from Flashdance and Jagged Edge to Sliver and Showgirls, has written Lust, an erotic thriller which Scott Steindorff and his Stone Village Productions are producing.

A cross between Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction, Lust centers on a 30-year old beauty who is married and in love with an older Miami-based fashion magazine publisher, only to be seduced by a younger charming playboy on a business trip in Los Angeles. The playboy has an Russian assistant who is in love with him, and in this twisted jealous love triangle, secretly videotapes him and his new lover having sex to show it to her husband.

The consequences of the woman’s impulsive, escapade unravel into a high suspense thriller promising plenty of steamy sex scenes, set against the backdrop of the high-stakes world of real estate brokering in Miami.

“There are a lot twists and turns that only Joe Eszterhas can do,” said Steindorff, one of the producers of The Lincoln Lawyer, the hit legal thriller starring Matthew McConaughey. “There’s reason why he was the top writer for many years: the guy knows how to write. And there hasn’t been a great sexual thriller since Unfaithful.’”

Steindorff and Eszterhas plan on going out to cast and a director in the next few weeks in order to sell the project at Cannes next month.  A late summer start is being eyed.

Steindorff plans to independently finance the $30 million film through private equity.

Hungarian-born Eszterhas was a reporter for Rolling Stone before making the jump into movies. At the height of his career, the writer was getting paid millions for his specs but was ultimately undone by high-profile flops such as Showgirls. He left Hollywood disillusioned by the movie industry in the late 1990s.

He ensconced himself in his hometown of Cleveland, focusing on raising a family and writing books. Eventually, the screenwriting siren called.

For Steindorff, Lust came to timing. The producer had called ICM looking for a sexual thriller, with the agency teaming him with Eszterhas just as he was finishing up his script.

Eszterhas’ scripts have given career-changing opportunities to Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas and the scribe and Steindoff see the potential for star-making turns in the four-hander.

Peter J. Fruchtman will also produce Lust with Dylan Russell, Craig Baumgarten and Scott LaStaiti as exec producers.

Eszterhas is repped by ICM and attorney Jaimi Afifi.