Lionsgate has closed a deal with Mike White to direct Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the adaptation of the Seth Grahame-Smith novel that spices up Jane Austen’s time-tested 1813 literary classic with a smattering of flesh-eating walking corpses. David O. Russell stepped out but left behind a script that had filmmakers salivating for the job. White got the formal offer on November 5. Lionsgate can now get busy on casting Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, and the other characters in the Austen tale. Russell originally had Natalie Portman interested in playing the female lead, but she left the project some time ago as actress, though she is producing through her handsomecharlie banner with Annette Savich, and Darko Entertainment. When she left, Russell wanted Scarlett Johansson and Bradley Cooper. Unclear if they’ll stay, particularly as Johansson was in contention for several other high profile films that were casting up before landing the female lead opposite Matt Damon in the Cameron Crowe-directed We Bought A Zoo.
White, who scripted School of Rock, made his feature directing debut on Year of the Dog. He is repped by UTA.
Now that the X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2 directing job went to Darren Aronofsky, The Hunger Games was gobbled up by Gary Ross and Zack Snyder got the Superman job, there are only a couple films left that have directors hot and bothered. One is Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, the Lionsgate film that David O Russell departed, and Mike Newell is still frontrunner to direct Scarlett Johansson and Bradley Cooper. But for sheer ambition and budget scale, the big directing job is the James Cameron-produced Fantastic Voyage at 20th Century Fox. I’m hearing that Cameron’s choice is Louis Leterrier, whose last film, Clash of the Titans, grossed around $500 million worldwide for Warner Bros. Cameron and the studio have a strong Shane Salerno script, and Cameron’s Avatar designers have done everything but build sets for a film that could be ready to shoot early in 2011. Of course, the studio is still figuring out the budget and logistics, as is the case with the other major 3D pic that Cameron is producing, the Guillermo del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness at Universal. Fantastic Voyage is an ambitious re-imagining of the 1966 original about a team of scientists shrunk into a ship in an attempt to save a colleague’s life. Fox has been wary of the budget of a film that, from early in the script once they go inside the body, … Read More »