It's near impossible to be a fan of supernatural horror nowadays and not know the name Seth Grahame-Smith. The author/screenwriter is scripting Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's Dark Shadows, adapted his own novel into the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter movie, and is actively pushing for his genre mashup, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, to make the jump to the big screen as well.
Those first two projects are already on track for release next year, but progress on the Zombies adaptation has been stop and go until now. Grahame-Smith has nonetheless provided updates on all three of the films, as they currently stand.
Smith informed Collider that filming on Dark Shadows should begin by this May, and that he's in the midst of tweaking the screenplay at this point. Rehearsals with Depp and his costars, including Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, and Bella Heathcote, are scheduled to start next month.
Burton's preference for working with the same people - both in front of and behind the camera - is well known and Dark Shadows was originally expected to be written by one of his frequent collaborators, John August (Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride).
It seems that Smith has no intention of straying far from the style of the Gothic auteur's previous works, as he told Collider, with respect to Dark Shadows:
"This is a Johnny Depp movie. This is a Tim Burton movie. I know what the palette of that is and I can draw on it."
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Director Timur Bekmambetov has commenced with principal photography on his Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter adaptation, which Smith was responsible for scripting as well. While the author had to make some significant changes to his original text, he was quite fine with the process:
"I had to cannibalize and just give up all ownership of the ['Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter'] book, in my mind. What makes a good book and what makes a good movie are totally different things... [For instance] to make the threat more palpable, there is a main villain character in the movie."
Smith also mentioned that he regretted not including an African-American perspective on the issue of slavery in his original novel, but that this was one of the additional elements he incorporated into his script. That tidbit could be cited as evidence that the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter movie won't be quite as brainless as its title immediately suggests.
Arguably the biggest name signed on to star in Vampire Hunter is that of recent addition Alan Tudyk, who will appear in a supporting role. The main cast is composed entirely of young stars whose careers are on the rise - and will hopefully continue to be so, after they've completed work on the 3D revisionist history/horror action flick.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Last month brought news that director Craig Gillespie was the new frontrunner to helm the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie for Lionsgate, but there's been nothing in the way of substantial news about the delayed project since then.
That's apparently no problem for Smith, who expects the studio to decide on a director and greenlight the film in the near future:
"['Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'] only came out two and a half years ago. When you compare that to however long it's taken to get 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay' made, or another book that found a big audience, it hasn't taken that long, relatively speaking."
It turns out that Smith and his Hard Times of RJ Berger co-writer David Katzenberg have already put together a "visual presentation", in the hopes of getting hired to direct the Zombies movie themselves. Who knows - maybe the pair will end up with the job at the end of the day.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is slated for theatrical release on June 22nd, 2012.
Dark Shadows is expected to reach theaters sometime in 2012 as well.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies could conceivably arrive in theaters by 2012 also, assuming it begins to move forward again over the next few months.