'Carol' Screenwriter Phyllis Nagy to Direct 'The Vanished' for CJ Entertainment (Exclusive)

Phyllis Nagy - H 2016
Kevork Djansezian/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The Academy Award nominee will also write the screenplay for the film, which is based on a best-selling book that tells the true story of the "johatsu," disenfranchised Japanese who mysteriously disappear every year.

Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Phyllis Nagy has signed on to write and direct a feature film adaptation of the best-selling nonfiction book The Vanished for South Korean powerhouse CJ Entertainment.

Nagy is best known for her screenplay for Todd Haynes' 2016 film Carol for which she was nominated for a best adapted screenplay Oscar. She also was nominated for two primetime Emmys in 2006 for writing and directing Mrs. Harris, the HBO film starring Annette Bening and Ben Kingsley.

Written by journalist Lena Mauger and photographer Stephane Remael, The Vanished tells the haunting true story of the disappearance of people in Japan every year. Nearly 100,000 Japanese vanish without a trace annually. Known as the "johatsu," or the "evaporated," they are often driven by feelings of shame and hopelessness, leaving behind failed careers, disappointed families or mounting debt.

"The stories and images of the johatsu that are woven through Lena Mauger and Stephane Remael's remarkable book moved me profoundly," Nagy said. "Those who are disenfranchised, who have no voice, who are, in fact, wiped clean from the rolls of our collective society — these narratives, though specific to Japan, increasingly find their terrible parallels in all corners of the world. And these global connections and resonances draw me powerfully to this tale. I can't wait to begin to dive in with this material with CJ."

CJ Entertainment is developing, financing and producing the feature film. The project marks the South Korean company's second French book adaptation, following the 2013 international hit Snowpiercer, directed by Bong Joon Ho and starring Chris Evans, Song Kang Ho, Octavia Spencer, Ed Harris, and Tilda Swinton, which CJ adapted from the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige.

CJ says the film will remain true to its source material in that it will be set in Japan.

Producing for CJ Entertainment are Tae-sung Jeong, CEO of CJ Entertainment, and Francis Chung, vp global co-productions and head of U.S. production. Mike Im, the company's head of international, is executive producing.

Said Chung: "With The Vanished we had always wanted to tell the story in an intricate yet delicate fashion. Everything about Phyllis, from her storytelling approach and style to her research and investment into the material, makes her the perfect writer and director for this project. We're thrilled to be working with her and know audiences will ultimately be treated to a masterfully crafted story for the big screen."

Fred Lee, CJ Entertainment's Los Angeles-based director of development, and Khan Kwon, CJ's Seoul-based development and production executive, are overseeing development of the project.

Nagy is represented by UTA and Casarotto Ramsay. In addition to The Vanished, she is currently at work on an adaptation of best-selling novelist Patricia Cornwell's first Scarpetta novel, Postmortem, which she will also direct.

Nagy's attachment to the project was negotiated by Adam Mehr at Pryor Cashman on behalf of CJ Entertainment. It follows CJ's announcement last month that it had closed a deal with Academy Award-winner Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious) to write the adapted screenplay for an English-language remake of the popular horror film The Housemaid. CJ is developing, financing and producing that film as well.