For a moment there it looked like third time wasn't the charm for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Craig Gillespie was rumored to be the third director (after David O. Russell and Mike White) to leave the project, which has struggled to move forward since the screen rights to Seth Grahame-Smith's original novel were acquired by Natalie Portman's Handsomecharlie Films, back in 2009.
Twitch had the scoop on Gillespie abandoning Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but Lionsgate has informed us that this is not the case. So it looks like progress on the romantic literature/horror mashup (which is slated to begin production by January 2012) won't be halted after all.
Initial word about Gillespie's departure was rather curious, since he was talking up the project very recently, while promoting the Fright Night remake. Gillespie has also been quite vocal about his excitement for the project in the past, between expressing his interest in making a stylized Gothic period tale crossed with a zombie action flick, and heaping praise on Russell's draft of the script (which Gillespie's Fright Night scriber, Marti Noxon, was eventually hired to rework).
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has struggled to snag an actress to portray the lead role of Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Popular starlets like Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Emma Stone, Mila Kunis, Olivia Wilde, and Rooney Mara have all been either rumored for, or actually offered, the role at some point, but a deal was never worked out.
The combination of production delays, troubles landing a lead actress, and other assorted issues have left fans wondering just when Pride and Prejudice and Zombies will actually make the jump to the big screen. While zombie movie fever will surely start dying out (no pun intended) in the future, there's still enough demand there to all but ensure that Gillespie's new horror-comedy effort does all right at the box office - especially since it's supposed to be relatively cheap for an action-oriented tentpole pic, with a budget well under $50 million. Plus, those that enjoyed the Fright Night remake should be all the more interested to see what Gillespie and Noxon can deliver with their second (3D?) collaboration.
We will keep you posted on the status of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as more information is released.