The Making Of The Woman In The Window Roadblocks


It seems like I’m not alone in finding Netflix’s The Woman in the Window a bit of a confusing slog, but like it or not, it’s a wonder this film even made it to our screens!

Despite an A++ list of talent on board, production was plagued by delays, confused test audiences, reshoots, and scandals among those involved.


Melinda Sue Gordon / © Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

But where there’s a will there’s a way (especially when there are content-hungry masses to please), and The Woman in the Window is finally available for all to see. Check out the unusual journey of the movie’s making below.

Author A.J. Finn sold the movie rights to The Woman In The Window to Fox 2000 for a million dollars before the book was even released.


Netflix/ Courtesy Everett Collection

This seemed like a good gamble as the book entered the New York Times best-seller list at position number one, only the 12th debut work to do so.

A.J. Finn was revealed as the pen name of editor Dan Mallory, who got called out for being a big, big liar.


David M. Benett

Among his deceptions: his mom died of cancer, his brother of suicide, he had a tumor and spinal surgery, and he has a doctorate from Oxford (none are true).

The novel is a riff on Hitchcock’s Rear Window, though there are accusations Mallory plagiarized plot elements from other works.


Courtesy Everett Collection

Namely, Sarah A. Denzel’s novel Saving April and, coincidentally, a 1995 movie called Copycat. (Jake Gyllenhaal is slated to play Mallory in a movie adaptation of the author’s wacky life.)

The script was adapted by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts, who said the process in general “kind of sucked.”


Taylor Hill / WireImage

He’s penned such mammoth works as August: Osage County and Killer Joe (and played the dad in Ladybird and the therapist here), and this was his first experience taking on the work of another writer. He says, “I got into the weeds of it. I was like, oh shit, this is hard. And I was also working with a lot of producers, a director, and they had a lot of notes.”

The movie was produced by Scott Rudin, who was exposed as extremely abusive in the workplace.


Melinda Sue Gordon / © Netflix / courtesy Everett Collection

The scandal came out just about a month before the film’s release. Among his charges? Smashing a computer monitor on an assistant’s hand (requiring a trip to the ER), throwing a glass bowl against a wall, throwing a laptop at a window, throwing a potato and a stapler at people in separate incidents, being racist, and forcing another producer out of his car while on a highway…..

The first test audience was in Paramus, New Jersey, and they did not like or understand the movie.


Netflix / Via giphy.com

So screenwriter Tony Gilroy (of the first four Bourne movie scripts) was brought in for rewrites—which audiences also didn’t like.

The release date of the film was delayed by over a year and a half.


Melinda Sue Gordon / © Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

It was originally supposed to come out in October 2019, and was pushed till May 2020 due to reshoots. Then of course COVID got in the way, so in summer of ’20 the film was sold to Netflix.

Fox 2000 studios, which produced the movie, closed the day of its release.


Netflix / Via giphy.com

The studio was purchased by Disney in March of 2019, and The Woman In The Window was its last film before being shuttered this month.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross composed the original score, but dropped out.


Pixar

They left during the reshoot phase, and instead worked on Disney’s Soul, for which they won an Oscar. Luckily Danny Elfman (Batman, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas) took over.

This is noted director Joe Wright’s very first thriller, a genre he’s always wanted to tackle.


Melinda Sue Gordon / © Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

He’s responsible for such book-to-film successes as Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, which definitely resonated with audiences. His goal for Woman In The Window: “What I hope people will take away from this is a sense that our own fears can incarcerate us. And this is a story about a woman who manages to overcome her own fears and leave them behind her.”

Netflix engaged in some unusual real-window advertising which may or may not have been legal.

It’s animated, and the screens take up the whole window- this was not cheap to install


Twitter: @jakedobkin

Regardless, it wasn’t a hit with the neighbors in Brooklyn.

The Manhattan brownstone from the film was actually built on a soundstage!


Netflix

The sprawling home serves as the vast majority of the movie’s setting. Each floor was designed with its own character in mind, with that spooky stairwell as the unbroken, connecting thread.

I think it’s safe to say this is a complicated film, both on screen and off.

What are your feels on the film? Let us know in the comments!

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