‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ redux: Can Neil Marshall snag the job?


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Mike White, the Jack Black collaborator and ‘Orange County’ writer, remains a top contender to direct ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,’ which as we wrote Tuesday is one of the hottest and strangest projects currently active in Hollywood. But a man who is neck and neck in the race -- and could yet land the gig when the announcement comes in the coming week-- is Neil Marshall.

The director, who helmed the 2005 trapped-women horror hit ‘The Descent,’ has presented his take on the story to studio Lionsgate and is very much in the mix, according to those familiar with discussions between the studio and the director. There’s one other director being considered, the sources say: Jeffrey Blitz, the fimmaker of acclaimed documentary ‘Spellbound’ and the Anna Kendrick coming-of-age movie ‘Rocket Science,’ potentially an even odder choice than White.


The smart money now is on White or Marshall, but Blitz could yet pull a Murkowski and land the gig. Maybe.

When David O. Russell decided last month not to make the movie -- a scary, darkly funny 19th century romance with zombies -- Lionsgate went out to a host of big names, including Mike Newell (‘Prince of Persia’) and Matt Reeves (‘Let Me In’). They passed -- this is risky territory, and if you have clout and need a hit, as both those do, maybe you take on something a little less chancy. That prompted the studio to go to the next group.

There’s also still the question of cast -- those familiar with the project say Scarlett Johansson, who had previously been reported as taking the gig, won’t star in the film. That leaves Bradley Cooper as Darcy. He’s still in, according to our sources, but the choice of the director could influence his decision too, which would in turn require filling both the Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy roles. Making those zombie period-romances just isn’t as easy as it used to be.

--Steven Zeitchik


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