It seems that yet another filmmaker has given up the chance to mix Regency-period literature with zombie monster violence, in the cinematic adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies novel.
Rumors that Craig Gillespie had left the Zombies project popped up some two months ago (from the time of writing this), but those were quickly dismissed by studio heads. However, it looks like the Fright Night remake helmer has become the third director to abandon ship on the flick - following in the footsteps of David O. Russell and Mike White.
Deadline says that Gillespie has left Pride and Prejudice and Zombies due to a disagreement with Lionsgate heads over "who to cast in the film." The picture's inability to land a leading lady in particular is well documented by now, seeing how popular young starlets like Blake Lively, Emma Stone, Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, and more have reportedly all passed on the opportunity to portray the famous Miss Elizabeth Bennet in this genre-blending movie.
Gillespie's Fright Night scripter (Marti Noxon) was recruited to refine the Zombies screenplay, which was penned by Russell - who has admitted he gave up on the project following a disagreement with Lionsgate over the estimated budget. Word has it that Russell's well-regarded draft of the screenplay (which Gillespie previously indicated would remain largely intact) features loads of impressive period action set pieces and sly humor to boot.
The combination of behind-the-scenes disagreements over how to handle the peculiar subject matter - coupled with the hesitancy of any A-listers to sign on for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, likely because of its (odd) self-explanatory premise - is to blame for this project's stop-and-go journey down the production pipeline. When exactly the stops will stop, and the movie will go forward, is anyone's guess at this point.
Perhaps the movie that will ultimately make (or break) the Zombies flick is next year's adaptation of another concept-mashup novel from author/screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith: director Timbur Bekmambetov's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Lionsgate could just wait to see if that film bombs (or, conversely, is a hit) at the box office before deciding whether or not its own Grahame-Smith adaptation is worth all this trouble.
We will continue to keep you posted on the status of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as the story develops.