The Woman in the Window's long and fittingly bizarre journey from best-seller to Netflix thriller
The Woman in the Window finally makes her debut
Much like the thrilling novel of the same name on which the film is based, The Woman in the Window's journey to the screen was full of twists and turns that no one saw coming. As the film finally prepares to make its debut Friday on Netflix, EW takes a look back at its road from page-turner to film.
Now-defunct Fox 2000 Pictures acquired screen rights to the A.J. Finn novel in fall 2016, before it was even published. In January 2018, the book became an instant No. 1 best-seller, but director Joe Wright tells EW that Tracy Letts’ script is what sold him on directing the adaptation: “I didn’t know the book. I was thrilled and excited, and I wanted to know what happened next. I thought it would make a great movie that I would want to see.”
In April, Amy Adams signed on to star in the film as the main character, Dr. Anna Fox, an agoraphobic woman who witnesses a murder while spying on her neighbors, only to later find out that no one believes her story. Over the next few months, Letts (who declined an interview for this story), Julianne Moore, Wyatt Russell, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie and more rounded out the A-list cast. The film went into production from August to October.
In a twist befitting the novel, The New Yorker alleged that the book’s author, whose real name is Dan Mallory, lied to various people about his credentials, having cancer and a brain tumor, his mother dying of cancer, and his brother killing himself. In fact, his mother and brother are both alive, and Mallory later said in a statement that his deceit was due to his “severe bipolar II disorder.”
After Disney acquired Fox, Woman was pushed from 2019 to 2020. Test screenings revealed that some found the plot too confusing; Disney ordered reshoots. Letts then told The Playlist that the ordeal of making the film “kind of sucked” and that he was not involved in revisions. “I felt we made the movie we set out to make, so I’m a little confused by [the reshoots],” he said at the time. “But it’s a thriller and people have certain expectations about the way a thriller works… I haven’t seen the redone version and we’ll see what it looks like.” Wright tells EW the reshoots were done to “clarify certain points” that may have been “too opaque," but the goal was not to oversimplify. “There's an enjoyment in not knowing what's going on, but at the same time, you have to give the audience something to hold on to… You have to lead them through the labyrinth of mystery and fear,” he says.
As with so many other movies, the COVID-19 pandemic crushed Woman’s 2020 theatrical release plans. Last year, Netflix bought the film and eventually slated it for a summer 2021 streaming debut. As the long, turbulent saga comes to an end, Wright says he’s pleased with the final product: “I’m very interested to see how people respond to the film, and I can’t wait for its release.”
A version of this story appears in the June issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday or available to order with covers featuring Lil Nas X, Mj Rodriguez, Bowen Yang, and Lena Waithe. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.