Sleeping With the Enemy, the 1991 thriller starring Julia Roberts, is getting a remake from Fox Searchlight. Roberts was a newly minted superstar coming off the blockbuster Pretty Woman when she signed on to play a domestic violence victim who fakes her own death in order to escape her controlling husband in the original 20th Century Fox film.
Based on the novel by Nancy Price, Sleeping With the Enemy rode Roberts' newfound mega-fame to a $101 million United States gross on a budget of just $19 million. Critics were less-than-enthusiastic about the film however, as reflected in the movie's 21 percent Rotten Tomatoes score. Roberts' career would take a slight dip in the years after thanks to some ill-advised projects including the weepie Dying Young, the screwball comedy I Love Trouble and - most infamously - the gothic drama Mary Reilly, but she would later rebound with traditional romantic comedy vehicles like My Best Friend's Wedding and Notting Hill before grabbing Oscar gold for her performance in Steven Soderbergh's Erin Brockovich.
As reported by Deadline, producer Damian Jones and his DJ Films Limited are partnering with Fox Searchlight to do a remake of Sleeping With the Enemy. Writer-director Nia DaCosta (Little Woods) is also on board the project. In addition, Jones and Fox Searchlight are lining up a film version of James Corden's hit stage play One Man, Two Guvnors, a farce about a man who finds himself working for a gangster. The team is also pairing for President’s Astrologer, a true-life film about Ronald and Nancy Reagan's mystically-inclined confidante Joan Quigley.
Jones previously produced Goodbye Christopher Robin for Fox Searchlight, as well as Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie and The Iron Lady, the last of which nabbed Meryl Streep an Oscar for Best Actress. With Sleeping With the Enemy, Jones is set to resurrect a movie that at the time was seen as a disappointing star vehicle for Roberts, and is still criticized for depicting its lead female character largely as a victim. No doubt, in the era of #MeToo, changes will have to be made to the film's point-of-view and tone in order to satisfy the new standards for how domestic violence and female empowerment are depicted on film.
With women gaining more and more power in the movie business, it seems the time is right for a lot of older film stories to be revisited, and reworked to better represent the female perspective. One iconic movie thriller of that era, Fatal Attraction, would already be a prospect for a remake if Glenn Close had her way. Sleeping With the Enemy is of course no Fatal Attraction, but its story of escaping the horrors of domestic violence remains relevant and could become a powerful vehicle if handled the right way.