Despite the living dead being hotter than ever, zombies are having a tough time coming to the silver screen. The film adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s bestselling mashup, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, once seemed like a sure thing. Yet that simply isn’t the case anymore. The project has started and stalled repeatedly over the last few years, beginning in December 2009 when Natalie Portman first announced she would both produce and star in the film. Enter a long list of potential directors, and Portman dropping out of the role last October, and things started to become hazy. Then Craig Gillespie (Fright Night) came on board as director in April and things finally seemed to be heading in the right direction. Now, all of that seems to be in question again. Sigh. Hit the jump for full details and more.
[Update: Reps for Lionsgate have emailed us saying that Gillespie is still attached to direct.]
Twitch reports through their sources that Gillespie has stepped away from the project, though details are slim. Gillespie had recently tagged screenwriter Marti Noxon, whom he worked with on Fright Night, to do rewrites on David O. Russell’s script for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Why Gillespie would step away from the project is not readily apparent, and Twitch even indicates that he was talking about his take on the film just a week ago. Production on the Lionsgate film is set for January, but the film may end up delayed yet again.
The film has not only had trouble locking down a director, but a leading lady as well. Since Portman’s departure from the project as the lead actress, the film has seemingly had nearly every young, up-and-coming talented actress attached to the project or in the running. The latest was Emma Stone, who was offered the lead role of Elizabeth Bennet in late June. That would have given Stone a second gig as zombie-dispatcher after 2009’s Zombieland had she not eventually passed on the gig.
For those unaware, Grahame-Smith’s novel is a mashup of zombies, martial arts, and more with Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice. The fact that the novel was in the public domain gave Grahame-Smith the ability to publish this parody novel that sparked similar mashups of public domain books when it hit the best sellers list.
Here’s a synopsis for Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies [from Amazon]:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy.
What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh eating undead. Can she vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry?
Finally, the project has a lot of interest and has continually attracted some interesting names. My hope is that Gillespie stays on board, but all signs seem to indicate otherwise as of now. We’ll keep you updated as more info becomes available.