Billy Ray to write, direct 'Secret in Their Eyes'

Warner Bros. is in negotiations to acquire the rights

Billy Ray will write and direct a new version of the Argentinian thriller "The Secret in Their Eyes" for Warner Bros., which is in negotiations to acquire the rights.

Juan Jose Campanella's 2009 murder mystery, which Campanella adapted from the novel by Eduardo Sacheri, won the foreign language Oscar in March. The film follows a retired criminal investigator in 2000 Buenos Aires who is writing a novel to try and deal with an unresolved rape and murder from 1974 that still haunts him. In the process, he re-encounters a female judge with whom he has a long, equally unresolved, history.

"The Secret in Their Eyes"

The original film has grossed $5.3 million Stateside since its April release.

Mark Johnson ("Donnie Brasco") is producing the new version, which Ray will re-set in the United States in present day.

"I want to try to make the movie that Anthony Minghella would have made from this material. Or Alan Pakula," says Ray. "I know that's setting the bar high, but it's the only reason to take something like this on. I am beyond excited about it, feeling truly privileged that a studio would take a shot on this kind of material."

Warner Bros. rarely adapts foreign language films for U.S. audiences, but its version of the Hong Kong thriller "Infernal Affairs" became Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," which won the Best Picture Oscar in 2006.

Ray, who is repped by CAA and Management 360, recently co-wrote the 2009 thriller "State of Play" and "Source Code," which Summit is producing for a 2011 release. He has also written and directed "Shattered Glass" and co-written and directed "Breach."

Ray is also penning a feature adaptation of the Fox TV series "24" and a script about the 2009 Somali pirate incident for producer Michael De Luca at Columbia.

John Ufland brought the project to Mark Johnson and Ray and is exec producing.