It's been ten years since Lyne has worked on a studio film, last directing the 2002 thriller "Unfaithful," but Variety says that Lyne is now in talks to direct "The Associate," which has been laying dormant for some time. William Monahan ("The Departed") wrote the initial draft of the script, but Paramount had a difficult time setting the budget, which made Shia Labeouf and possible director Tony Scott walk away from the project (they were looking at it back in 2010). The report doesn't say what the budget might have been, but says that Paramount has settled on a $25-30 pricetag, which is significantly less than the budgets Scott has been used to having in the past 20 years. Apparently that amount suits Lyne just fine, and, once Lyne's deal is finalized, casting should commence shortly. The studio is reportedly interested in Andrew Garfield, though no conversations have taken place, and it's likely that Garfield's asking price will rise after ""The Amazing Spider-Man" opens in July.
"The Associate" is a fairly atypical Grisham story. It follows a recent Yale graduate named Kyle McAvoy who is blackmailed after a videotape shows two of McAvoy's fraternity brothers rape a woman in McAvoy's apartment. To avoid bringing shame to his family and destroying his reputation, McAvoy is forced to join a prestigious law firm and turn over evidence for a multibillion lawsuit. The sexually charged nature of the blackmail rap fits nicely into Lyne's "sexual thriller" wheelhouse, and, while the length of Lyne's absence gives his sudden return the air of a cash grab, the promise of Monahan's script could turn this a project into more than just a, well, Grisham movie.