The adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s history/horror mashup, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has secured some big names behind the camera and a respectable thespian to play the warrior politician – so why is the cinematic take on the author’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (pardon the pun) struggling to come alive?

Current Oscar contender David O. Russell bailed on the project last fall, reportedly because then-star Natalie Portman’s busy schedule was holding up production. Now the Fighter director has opened up a bit more about the reason for his departure.

WSJ Speakeasy caught up recently with Russell and got to talking about the difficulties of attaining proper financing for a film when the director revealed the following tidbit about the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie:

“I thought at $40 to $50 million was a bargain price to make a ‘Sherlock Holmes’-style period action romance that happened to have zombies in it. The studio budgeted it as a genre zombie movie and gave me $25 to $28 million. I was like, that’s not cool. We have crazy big action sequences in it. It’s very commercial; we have a major romance. It’s a period film. And we’re doing it on the budget that we did ‘The Fighter’? It made no sense to me. That I found was frustrating.”

FOX is sinking some $69 million into the 3D Abraham Lincoln adaptation and P&P&Z is a product that comes with arguably a similar amount of built-in demand – both from zombie movie enthusiasts and those who are merely morbidly curious. So why the hesitancy on Lionsgate’s part to set a proper budget for a (bloody) popcorn flick with decent box office potential?

The Director Hunt

Director Mike White officially left the project last week, opening the door for another filmmaker (possibly a better known one) to try their hand at the Jane-Austen-romance-meets-zombpocalypse-thriller. One name that’s popped up is that of Christopher Smith, a lesser-known English auteur with a fitting background in graphic dark comedy (Severence) and more straightforward horror (Creep, Triangle). /Film, however, has already indicated that hopeful fans are likely responsible for this flimsy but otherwise not unreasonable rumor.

P&P&Z does differ from Abraham Lincoln as it will require a director who can handle scenes of unflinching violence against the undead while keeping their tongue planted firmly in cheek – whereas Lincoln is going to be played as more of a straightforward period piece with vampire gore thrown into the mix. It’s difficult to say which of these projects will be trickier to realize onscreen – since both are naturally inclined to have camp value – and yet the art of mixing brutal action with off-kilter humor is a delicate one, and the results can be disastrous in the wrong hands.

When action/humor goes wrong.

No one is currently attached to star in or direct Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but that should change in the near future. Feel free to share your thoughts with us about the project in the comments section below and on Twitter @screenrant and @feynmanguy.

Source: WSJ Speakeasy (via The Playlist), /Film