I'll start with the highbrow: the critically acclaimed British television series Lost in Austen is getting the Hollywood treatment, with none other than Sam Mendes producing. Lost in Austen has a loose, sci-fi premise: Elizabeth Bennet and a modern day Jane Austen fan swap places via some sort of time-traveling doorway. I haven't seen the whole series (it's in my Netflix queue!) but the many ways it plays with the novel sound delightful. Keep an eye out for the film adaptation, though, because it has both big studio backing and indie cred, via Sam Mendes.
Moving on to the lowbrow...
Zombies! Word has it that Seth Grahame-Smith's upcoming novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has generated enough buzz that Hollywood studios are already quibbling over rights to the book - which won't even be released until April. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is, apparently, exactly what the title states. Grahame-Smith has taken the original novel, which has been long out of copyright, and added the zombie apocalypse. Apparently, much of the source text remains intact, although presumably all of the gore and violence will be new. I'm actually excited about this! Zombie films have always been the resident, self-aware cultural commentary arm of the horror genre and I see a lot of possibilities in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Perhaps it will be a romantic comedy of manners similar to Shaun of the Dead? Or perhaps I'm just a little too excited about the possibility of Elizabeth Bennet being a zombie slayer...
Finally, the latest (and strangest) news: Elton John's Rocket Pictures is developing the film Pride and Predator, about an alien that crash lands in the world of Austen's Pride and Prejudice and starts killing everyone. I predict that this may set a new standard for bodice ripping.
Will Keira Knightley star in any of these films? Probably not. Will they be any good? Who knows? I'm an Austen fan and a sci-fi/horror fangirl, so I think there's a lot of potential for radness here. However, there's also a big possibility that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Pride and Predator could go over-the-top (or perhaps not over-the-top enough) and end up trading on mean-spirited, mysoginistic cliches about Austen and costume dramas. But I'm hopeful instead that this is part of a bigger trend to do interesting, genre-bending work that interests both men and women.
And all of you Austen fans who might be cringing right now, take heart. Austen has survived countless stultifying BBC miniseries adaptations and many, many mediocre films. She can take a few zombies.
Lost in Austen to be Hollywood Film [Guardian UK]
Hollywood Studios Bidding for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies [/Film]
Rocket Launches 'Predator' [Variety]