The works of William Shakespeare have become so pervasive in the entertainment world that most moviegoers would be surprised to know just how many Hollywood releases are based (albeit, some loosely) on his plays. In their many forms, the stories, themes and character dynamics of Shakespeare’s works tend to resonate with audiences in a way that makes them instantly primed for adaptation.
However, perhaps the most well-known and frequently adapted Shakespearean work is Romeo and Juliet. The tragic tale of star-crossed lovers from opposing family lines has been done time and time again, reimagined as everything from a gangland musical (West Side Story) to an animated film starring gnomes (Gnomeo and Juliet) – not to mention, straight-forward adaptations, such as Romeo and Juliet (2013), starring Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth. Now it looks like another take on Shakespeare’s classic in on its way.
According to THR, Sony is developing yet another Romeo and Juliet re-imagining – with this project being called Verona. Details are vague at this early stage in development, but the film aims to retell the story of Romeo and Juliet in a style similar to epic films like 300. It will be based on a spec script penned by lesser-knowns Neil Widener and Gavin James, with Joe Roth attached to produce.
There’s no word just yet regarding the approach Verona will take. However, judging by the comparison to 300, it’s safe to assume that the film will retain its period setting and not take the Capulets and Montagues into the modern era (as Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet did back in 1996). However, there’s still the question of whether the project will incorporate any of Shakespeare’s original text (as that earlier film did), or if it will completely rework the oft-quoted dialogue for this new big-screen version.
Roth is no stranger to reinterpreting classic stories in a more visually arresting way. In the last few years, he’s produced such lucrative fairy tale re-imaginigns as Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman and Maleficent. None of those films were particularly beloved as far as the critical reception goes. Still, they presented a distinct visual style and brought something different to their respective stories.
Perhaps Verona can likewise add something to the basic framework of Shakespeare’s tragedy? Maybe, maybe not, but even if Verona ends up being something of a disaster on a storytelling level, the film ought to at least wind up looking cool.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for updates on Verona as this story develops.