The appeal, and thorniness, of ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’

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Zombies have been touted as the next big Hollywood thing, and producers have had especially high hopes for the biggest of these big things -- a genre mash-up called ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.’ That is, assuming they can find the right director. It’s not easy when you have a movie that mixes George Romero and 19th century romance.

Based on a novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, the high-concept film uses the template of the Jane Austen classic but drops zombies and other genre staples onto the English countryside.


The quirky auteur David O. Russell had been on board to direct the movie. But last month the ‘Flirting with Disaster’ filmmaker decamped to make the video game adaptation ‘Drake’s Fortune.’ That created a vacuum behind the camera, and four weeks weeks later, no filmmaker has been selected to replace him (although Lionsgate says a choice is expected soon).

The job has proved a tricky one for studio Lionsgate and producer Darko Entertainment, which is run by cult director Richard Kelly -- it requires a filmmaker who can adroitly handle comedy, genre and period conventions. One name that numerous agents and managers -- who have been briefed by those affiliated with the film -- have pointed to in recent days as a top contender is Mike White. White is a relatively inexperienced director, but supporters say the choice is not without its logic. A writer (‘School of Rock,’ ‘Orange County,’ Chuck & Buck’) and director (‘The Year of the Dog’) known for black comedy, White is seen as one of the few candidates who can handle the film’s many tones.

One name that looks unlikely is Matt Reeves. Although he was reported by several outlets as a contender, a source at Lionsgate who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the search process said it did not look like Reeves, who gained heat for his vampire movie ‘Let Me In,’ would get the gig. Otherwise all choices are on -- and all bets are off.

-- Steven Zeitchik and Nicole Sperling


Zombies could replace vampires (again)