According to Variety, Focus Features and BBC Films have attached David Cronenberg to direct Eastern Promises, a London thriller penned by Steve Knight. The script digs into the same seamy underside of life in the U.K. capital that Knight explored in his previous film, Dirty Pretty Things.

The story focuses on a young midwife drawn into investigating the identity of a mysterious Russian girl who dies in childbirth on Christmas Eve.

The nurse stumbles into danger when she discovers that the dead woman was a prostitute ensnared by a sex-trafficking gang.

Cronenberg and Knight have just started working together on the script; aim is to shoot this fall.

However, Cronenberg is also attached to direct the Bruce Wagner-scripted Maps to the Stars for Serendipity Pictures, and much depends on which of the two projects is ready to go first.

Eastern Promises will be Cronenberg's second British movie after his 2002 psychodrama Spider. The budget is likely to be $15 million-$20 million.

Brian B.