By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist October 28, 2011 at 2:23AM
Try as they might, Lionsgate just can't seem to get "Pride And Prejudice And Zombies" off the ground. The project started in the hands of David O. Russell, for a brief moment had Mike White attached, and then seemed to be ready to go with "Lars And The Real Girl" and "Fright Night" director Craig Gillespie. Gillespie, as recently as this summer, talked excitedly about shooting the film next year. But this zombie flick just added one more body to the count as Deadline reveals that Gillespie has amicably split from the movie.
It's hard to know what exactly is making this project so difficult to get going. As former director O. Russell revealed earlier this year, the budget allocated for the period based horror/action/romance flick made it tough to make. “I thought at $40 to $50 million was a bargain price to make a ‘Sherlock Holmes’-style period action romance that happened to have zombies in it,” Russell said. “The studio budgeted it as a genre zombie movie and gave me $25 to $28 million. I was like, that’s not cool. We have crazy big action sequences in it. It’s very commercial; we have a major romance. It’s a period film. And we’re doing it on the budget that we did ‘The Fighter?’ It made no sense to me. That, I found, was frustrating.”
But for Gillespie, it appears that disagreements over casting ultimately made him leave. Certainly, the project has seen a number of names being tossed around over its gestation including Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, Mia Wasikowska and most recently Blake Lively, but if that budget figure O. Russell mentioned is indeed the one being tossed around, we're not sure how they would've been able to afford any of those thesps (though Lively perhaps could've been viable, but no one seemed to like that choice).
So now the film will go back to the start. The most recent script was still based off O. Russell's version -- which Gillespie had said has "a great mix of humor and horror” -- which had a rewrite by Marti Noxon ("Buffy The Vampire Slayer," "Fright Night"). But one has to imagine this project is now severely damaged goods given the rotating talent that have come and gone. It will be interesting to see what play Lionsgate makes now, if they'll keep the O. Russell/Noxon script and try and find someone else to direct or just start from scratch all over. But needless to say, this is one zombie film that seriously needs an injection of fresh blood.