Say what you will about the Twilight series, but you can't deny that the film adaptations have been a box office smash. The three movies together have made almost two billion dollars, and there's another two on the way.
Stephenie Meyer isn't the only one seeing dollar signs: The Twilight Saga's production studio, Temple Hill, has been tapped by ABC to produce two new TV projects, both adaptations of classic literature.
The first is a modern-day re-imagining of Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. As of now, the series is set in The Hamptons, Long Island, and will follow a female version of the Edmond Dantes character as she tries to exact revenge upon those who hurt her family. Mike Kelley (creator, Swingtown) will take initial writing duties and share executive producer titles with Temple Hill's co-creators Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen.
The second ABC project will be a more faithful series adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, set in the original 1500s Verona, Italy. Godfrey and Bowen will share executive producer duties with XXX/ Knight and Day producer Todd Gardner and newcomer Sean Robins. Andrea Berloff, whose only significant work is writing World Trade Center in 2006, will write and executive produce. Catherine Hardwicke may be directing, which would certainly make sense given her direction of the original Twilight movie (but not the sequels) and the upcoming Red Riding Hood.
Obviously both projects will call upon Temple Hill's experience with female-focused films: in addition to all five Twilight movies, the production duo worked on Dear John earlier this year. I'm not a fan of the Twilight movies or source material myself, but all of the films so far have had a unique, striking look to them. The projects have been released on time, are wildly successful and relatively economical in Hollywood terms, (all three movies together cost an estimated $155 million to make, and each film brought in more than its entire budget on opening weekend) so it's easy to see why the producers are in high demand.
The Monte Cristo story is timeless, and has been adapted numerous times in varying incarnations. For a re-telling of the original Dumas novel, the best examples are movies in 1934 and 2002 (among many, many others.) It's also been made into various TV series, miniseries and movies as far back as the 50s, running the gamut from the original 1800s France to 3000 years in the future with oddball sci-fi anime Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo. If Monte Cristo is timeless, Romeo & Juliet is eternal, with more adaptations and inspirations than can be listed.
While Temple Hill and the various names attached have proven themselves as far as female-focused projects go, I'm curious to see how these series will work their source material into a season's worth of television (or more). The Monte Cristo project is at best a loose adaptation, so look for it to tap into the current anti-affluent populist sentiment in the U.S. with its Hamptons setting - ironic, considering how much money its creators have made thus far. But Romeo & Juliet looks to be a fairly faithful version of the original story. I don't see how the writers and producers could stretch the original into more than, say, ten 40-minute episodes.
Expect the untitled Monte Cristo project and Romeo & Juliet in late 2011 or early 2012, barring any production snags.
Source: Deadline Hollywood