EXCLUSIVE: Slingshot Productions and BBC Films are co-developing a teen thriller partly inspired by Strangers On a Train. The working title is Teens On a Train. Slingshot’s hoping to shoot in 2011. Joshua St Johnston, creator of BBC fashion drama Material Girl, is the writer. St Johnston co-founded Ray Winstone’s production company Size 9. The project takes Patricia Highsmith’s novel, filmed by Hitchcock, as its inception: two strangers meet on a train and agree to murder the person who’s making the other person’s life a misery. In Slingshot’s version boy meets girl, girl turns out to be raving psychopath… The idea developed out of a teen Hitchcock scriptwriting competition that Slingshot ran in 2007. But Hitchcock/Highsmith as only the point of embarkation. Before Sunrise is another influence, Slingshot CEO Arvind Ethan David tells me. Doubtless Slingshot watched last week’s ruling by a New York judge that 2007’s Disturbia was not a direct steal from Rear Window with interest. At the time of its release, many critics dismissed Disturbia as a direct by-the-numbers teen version of the Hitchcock classic. But New York district judge Laura Taylor Swan dismissed the lawsuit brought by the estate of Cornell Woolrich, writer of the original short story which Hitchcock based his 1954 movie on. Judge Taylor Swan ruled that “the main plots are similar only at a high, unprotectable level of generality”.

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