The movie adaptation of author Seth Grahame-Smith’s (literal) mashup novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, emerged from development hell earlier this year. The project has struggled to lock down a lead actress so far – presumably the strange blend of Jane Austen literature and horror monsters has something to do with that – which has, seemingly, contributed to several directors signing up, then dropping out, over the past few years.
However, now that the adaptation has gained new financing, it’s moving ahead in pre-production once more. In addition, a new director has been recruited and a starlet has entered talks to portray the Elizabeth Bennett character in the film.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, as written by Smith, takes the prose in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice source book (rather, a portion of it) and splices in references to the encroaching zombie apocalypse, in order to produced a rather specific, and very literal, mixture of genres. The popularity of Smith’s novel started a literature mash-up craze, but the lukewarm box office returns for Cowboys & Aliens and then Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (the latter was scripted by Smith, based on his novel) is part of the reason why the P&P&Z movie hasn’t progressed to the production stage yet.
Variety is reporting that Lily Collins has entered negotiations to play Miss Bennett in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The project is now being directed by Burr Steers, with Natalie Portman (who planned to star at one point) co-producing with Annette Savitch through the duo’s Handsomecharlie Films. The list of backers on the movie also includes Allison Shearmur Productions, Darko Entertainment and Paranorma Media.
Collins, daughter of musician Phil Collins, playing supporting roles in films like The Blind Side, Priest and Abduction, before she made the jump to female protagonist in the Snow White re-retelling Mirror Mirror. She is headlining the young adult fantasy novel adaptation The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones this summer, so the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie will allow Lily Collins to continue her trend of playing independent-minded heroines, who can also kick butt, in a playful and self-aware manner (think Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
Steers as director, on the other hand, doesn’t inspire confidence, as his past work includes the forgettable Zac Efron vehicles 17 Again and Charlie St. Cloud, following his breakout as director on Igby Goes Down. Then again, he may be drawing from the P&P&Z script draft written by David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) – as well as the revisions by Marti Noxon (Fright Night) – so who know, maybe this weird project will be the one to put Steers’ name on the map (in a good way).
More on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as the story develops.