Novelist Seth Grahame-Smith has recently become an in-demand writer around Hollywood. Case in point: he co-wrote the upcoming film adaptation of his book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, penned Tim Burton's Dark Shadows movie, and is working alongside his frequent writing/producing collaborator David Katzenberg on a screenplay for the long-rumored Beetlejuice 2.
Warner Bros. clearly approves of Smith's work on those last two projects - seeing how the studio has reportedly spent around $2 million securing the rights to a screen adaptation of his impending novel, Unholy Night.
Deadline says that the deal for Unholy Night includes Smith handling scriptwriting duties. The author/scribe will also produce the project alongside Katzenberg, David Heyman (the Harry Potter franchise) and Jeffrey Clifford (Up in the Air).
Here is an official plot summary for the Unholy Night novel (which is scheduled to be published by April 2012):
In Grahame-Smith's telling, the so-called "Three Wise Men" are infamous thieves, led by the dark, murderous Balthazar. After a daring escape from Herod's prison, they stumble upon the famous manger and its newborn king. The last thing Balthazar needs is to be slowed down by young Joseph, Mary and their infant. But when Herod's men begin to slaughter the first born in Judea, he has no choice but to help them escape to Egypt.
It's the beginning of an adventure that will see them fight the last magical creatures of the Old Testament; cross paths with biblical figures like Pontius Pilate and John the Baptist; and finally deliver them to Egypt. It may just be the greatest story never told.
Judging by that description, Unholy Night is more of a serious (religious) historical "revisioning"/adventure romp in the vein of Smith's Abe Lincoln story - and not so much a campy affair, like the author's (in)famous Pride and Prejudice and Zombies book.
Biblical blockbusters have become all the rage of late, what with projects such as Alex Proyas' Paradise Lost, Scott Derrickson's Goliath, Darren Aronofsky's Noah, and Warner Bros.' Gods and Kings (which Steven Spielberg may direct) all being either actively developed or on the cusp of beginning production. Smith's previous oddball genre-mashup works were (if nothing else) pretty unique; Unholy Night, on the other hand, is basically just the new kid on the block of contemporary re-imaginings of religious tales.
It's difficult to asses the potential quality of Unholy Night right now, simply because none of the aforementioned Smith-scripted projects have been released yet. Many dedicated book readers have already formed an opinion of the man's ability to weave a captivating (if weird) yarn, but for moviegoers, Smith is pretty much still a newcomer.
That said: the ideas and concepts behind Smith's literature (arguably) lend themselves more naturally to the film medium than the printed word. Take that as you will.
We will keep you posted on any (noteworthy) future developments concerning Unholy Night.