Hot on the heels of the $100m global success of Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Madden has lined up the comedic whodunit with Charlize Theron in talks to star.

Tripp Vinson, Beau Flynn and Murder Mystery screenwriter James Vanderbilt will produce with Endgame head Jim Stern, Tower Hill’s William Shively and Theron through her Denver and Delilah Productions. Endgame’s Doug E Hansen will serve as executive producer.

Endgame and Tower Hill are financing and the producers have earmarked a first quarter 2013 start on the story about an American couple in Mediterranean Europe. “It honours the genre while stretching its assumptions in delicious, surprising and intoxicating ways,” Madden said.

Endgame Entertainment’s president of production Julie Goldstein will oversee production with svp of development Lucas Smith.

“I’ve had the great joy of working with John in the past and am thrilled he’s on board to direct,” Stern said. “In his deft hands and with the great talent lining up, the film will have the combination of suspense, romance and humour that made James’ script so remarkable.”