John Maybury has signed on to direct a new big-screen adaptation of Wuthering Heights for Ecosse Films.

HanWay Films will handle international sales and introduce the project to buyers at the forthcoming EFM in Berlin.

The new script is written by Olivia Hetreed, who also adapted The Girl With A Pearl Earring. Emily Bronte's 1847 novel is about Heathcliff and Cathy, two ill-fated lovers in the Yorkshire moors.

Ecosse's Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae will produce.

'I think Wuthering Heights needs a passionate, dangerous director and that's why I chose John,' Bernstein told

Maybury, known for edgier work such as Francis Bacon biopic Love Is The Devil, says Wuthering Heights 'is the most exciting of all the period classics.' He was drawn to Hetreed's take on the dark themes of the book, about how Heathcliff's passion destroys everyone around him. 'Decay and destruction - that's good for a movie,' Maybury told Screen.

The project will start casting soon with an eye to shooting it starting in September. 'With this one the roles are very serious and very demanding and they require real depth and weight. But we're spoilt for choice in this country. And in the States.'

A UK shoot is likely - 'It's about landscape as much as about character,' Maybury says.

Maybury recently completed The Edge Of Love starring Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Cillian Murphy and Matthew Rhys.

Ecosse and HanWay also worked together on Becoming Jane and the new Brideshead Revisited.