Portman originally landed the lead role of Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a new film based on Seth Grahame-Smith's book which adds flesh-eating monsters to Austin's period novel.
But the actress has quit the film - and Johansson is in talks to take over as Bennet, who continues her quest for love amid a deadly battle with bloodthirsty zombies, according to Britain's Sunday Express.
A source tells the publication, "Natalie Portman was going to be playing the part but has left the project and now Scarlett is in talks."
Austen's classic novel was previously revived in a 2005 version starring Keira Knightley, who won an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of the leading lady.
Hey, look. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are doing another movie together! In other news that won't surprise anyone, the sky is still blue and Russell Brand's voice is still annoying.
Anyway, according to Deadline, the actor is set to re-team with Burton for the long-gestating film adaptation of Dark Shadows, a movie based on the 1960s gothic daytime drama centered on vampire Barnabas Collins. It will begin shooting in April. Seth Grahame-Smith, author of the bestselling Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (which is getting its own adaptation), is writing the screenplay.
This news isn't all that surprising. The dynamic duo have been set to team up for Shadows for quite some time; the only thing that wasn't sure was a start date (and a green light, but we never doubted that it would get one). What is surprising is that, because Shadows is now set to shoot in April, this complicates his role with Tom Hanks in Kathryn Bigelow's upcoming Triple Frontier (a.k.a. Sleeping Dogs), set to begin in February. Nothing is official yet and he may be able to shoot his part in that pic before April if he is locked, but it's looking unlikely.
And man, talk about a major bummer. I know Depp and Burton like to make movies, but come on. This is, what, the millionth time they're working together? In Frontier, Depp was set to star alongside Hanks for the first time. Plus, he'd be working with newly-minted Oscar winner Bigelow. He's a chameleon of a performer, so I was really excited to see what he would come up with for a film that appears to be much different that anything he's ever done. And honestly, how many more weird and crazy versions of Edward Scissorhands can they make? Ugh.
Earlier this month we reported that 20th Century Fox had emerged victorious in the bidding war that took place for the rights to author Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. And it looks like the studio is wasting no time in developing the hot property before the current vampire fad dies out. (Seriously, please die out.)
The 19th century period actioner - which imagines Abraham Lincoln as both statesman and vengeful vampire hunter - will be getting a wide release June 22, 2012. Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) will be directing, and producing alongside the legendary Tim Burton with a script from Grahame-Smith.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has only just begun casting, ahead of its 2012 release, so hopefully it's not too late for us at Hollywood.com to once again endorse Liam Neeson for the titular role. The British thesp spent an awful lot of time researching and preparing to play the 16th President for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln - a project that is going nowhere fast - so why not channel that energy into Vampire Hunter? The Taken star certainly has the combination of presidential austerity and bad-assery to get the job done.
David O. Russell has rendered the undead dead.
Vulture reports that the director is leaving Pride and Prejudice and Zombies -- a project based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith. The reason? A scheduling conflict with star and producer Natalie Portman. Man, what a B! (Kidding)
But what's bad news for zombies is good news for Vince Vaughn. O. Russell is now directing the upcoming dramedy Old St. Louis starring Vaughn as a traveling toy salesman who's trying to reconnect with his daughter. Vulture also suggests that Russell's move is forcing Scarlett Johansson -- who committed to St. Louis earlier -- to drop out of the project because of scheduling conflicts, but also, Chloe Moretz may now be able to play Vaughn's daughter.
Now after that whole hot mess of scheduling issues, we're left with one thing for sure -- O. Russell will direct Vaughn in Old St. Louis this spring. And honestly, I'm pretty excited for this film. Since Old School, Vaughn has done nothing but be a smart-ass in his movies. It's always some clever line here or clever line there, and he's especially done a great job making audiences not take him seriously at all. So, how does the world's least serious actor handle a serious role? Hopefully O. Russell has a plan.
After a lengthy bidding war between the major studios, 20th Century Fox has emerged victorious in the battle for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The studio moves immediately into pre-production on the fictional period actioner, which was penned by Seth Grahame-Smith (based on his own acclaimed novel).
Timur Bekmambetov returns to the directing chair for the first time since 2008's Wanted on Vampire Hunter. He'll also produce the picture along with his 9 collaborator Tim Burton. The narrative kicks off after President Lincoln's mother is killed by a supernatural creature, which fuels his passion to crush vampires and their slave-owning helpers.
Since Steven Spielberg's Lincoln seems doomed to an existence in development purgatory, my hope is that the heavy-hitting combo of Burton and Bekmambetov can persuade Liam Neeson (long attached to play the 16th President of the USA in the fore mentioned biopic) to take on the role after all. It would be a shame for the Oscar nominated thespian to have wasted years of research and preparation on a part that he'd never get to play, so I would think he'd at least entertain the idea of slaying the undead in this $70 million budgeted production.
Or perhaps a healthy paycheck can convince him to work on the film. Fox was reportedly very enthusiastic about getting the rights to the film, as Variety claims they went all out to win the project. Aside from giving a detailed pitch for the film's production, marketing and release, executives Tom Rothman, Jim Gianopulos and Emma Watts greeted the filmmakers on their lot with a Comic-Con worthy banner, parking signs stating: “Parking for Vampire Hunters Only, Park at your own risk" and bloody footprints lining the walkway and steps leading from their cars to the meeting. If the company was willing to go to these lengths to nab the film itself, maybe they'll be willing to go the extra mile to attract a bankable, beloved and believable star like Neeson. Normally I'm not crazy about Fox's business tactics, but this kind of support shows that it is committed to delivering the best possible genre film it can.
Just another reason to be excited for the next two years of Hollywood films...
Timur Bekmambetov to Direct Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Ever since I watched Russian auteur Timur Bekmambetov's Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor) (2004) and Day Watch (Dnevnoy Dozor) (2006) a few years back, I'd been excited to see what the director would be capable of when he inevitably made his way to Hollywood. So I was somewhat let down when his first American feature was 2008's flashy but uninspired Wanted, a movie that only hinted at the depths Bekmambetov's creativity.
For a while it was assumed that the Russian's next project would be a sequel to Wanted, but in a recent interview with Empire Magazine, Bekmambetov revealed that Wanted 2 has stalled while James McAvoy is shooting X-Men: First Class, and that he has begun working on a new project instead: writer Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Vampire Hunter is a faux-historical epistolary-style book written as a biography of the life of the 16th President, in which Lincoln is reimagined as an axe-wielding politician with a vendetta against the vampires who took his mother's life.
While we've known for some time that he was set to produce the film with the legendary Tim Burton, this is the first time Bekmambetov has confirmed that he will also direct. "[Vampire hunter] I’m prepping to direct myself," he said in the interview. "It is not a comedy at all – it is a very entertaining, epic history lesson for millions and millions of teenagers. If you remember Night Watch, it is maybe in the vein of that kind of movie. We are keeping the traditional look of Lincoln – the big hat and the beard. He has to be historically correct, but with a few special weapons… I hope we will start this winter. We are shooting in America."
Obviously, as a fan of his earlier work, anything "in the vein of [Night Watch]" sounds promising to me. While it's a shame American audiences haven't yet gotten the opportunity to appreciate Bekmambetov's creative genius - which was sadly lacking in Wanted - his upcoming partnership with Tim Burton is certainly an encouraging sign that Vampire Hunter is headed in the right direction.
Bekmambetov also gave Empire a number of updates on his other projects - including a 3D drunk-driving horror movie - which you can read about here or below:
Wanted 2: "We are discussing Wanted 2 every month. We are working on it now, but I think it will be after Lincoln because James (McAvoy) is working on the X-Men: First Class… It’s why I decided to develop Lincoln without a studio, to keep control. It’s a big movie but independent too."
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: "Yes, it is happening. We are in development with a writer and Ridley Scott’s people. It’s early in development. I would like to direct myself – it’s a great tale that I love from my childhood. It will be a modernized version of the famous book."
Moby Dick: "I’ve developed the whole world, but we’re still working on the script. To fight a supernatural creature, you need people with supernatural abilities. It’s the same story but with a different take, much more mystical. The whalers are not ordinary people, and yes, the whale will be done digitally."
Red Asphalt. "I am working on that with Lionsgate. It’s a movie about drunk driving… in 3D! 3D is the only way to recreate what you feel when you drink and drive."
"It’s my original idea – I wrote the treatment. Everyone drinks and drives once, and I want to make a horror movie about it. It’s one big car chase. People will feel what it’s like when you’re drunk and driving, and it’s really scary. The world is not exactly the same."
The Knights Templar: "That is a project I am developing with Universal. I wrote the treatment but it’s not something I am doing in the near future. It’s a great story, but… It’s why I’m producing, because there are too many stories. I have to give them to other people sometimes.
Twilight Watch [The sequel to Night Watch and Day Watch - unrelated to the Twilight Saga]: "I hope it happens. It’s like first love – we created this world and now I’m watching the Twilight movies, I feel like we missed something by not doing Twilight Watch. Because there are a lot of ideas in those films that we were going to use. But we didn’t finish the story. It would be good to get around to it one day. "
The Last Witchhunter: "I am not working on that one. It was in discussion but is not happening now."
Black Lightning: "We are talking with Universal about producing an English-language remake, but I am not directing it."
Source: Empire Online
Despite languishing in pre-production limbo for the last several years, Tim Burton's planned adaptation of the Gothic daytime soap opera Dark Shadows, which ran on ABC from 1966-1971, now looks to be showing new signs of life. Seth Grahame-Smith - whose penchant for injecting a healthy dose of the macabre into literary classics has resulted in such bestsellers as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - has been hired to rewrite the movie's draft. Warner Bros. is now expected to begin production in January with lead Johnny Depp, who is of course set to star as the vampire Barnabas Collins (originally played by Jonathan Frid.)
Writer John August was originally signed on to develop the script for Burton, but will be replaced by Grahame-Smith, whose talent Burton recognized based on the strength of his best-selling novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. In fact, Burton was so impressed by Vampire Hunter that he and Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch) have bought the rights to the film adaptation out of pocket, with Bekmambetov likely to make the movie his next project. (And if you haven't seen Night Watch check out the trailer and then rent it on Netflix - it's an incredibly creative piece of filmmaking.)
David O. Russell is also eyeing Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which Lionsgate has optioned as a possible vehicle for Natalie Portman as Elizabeth Bennett. Presumably, Grahame-Smith's Elizabeth has to deal with a fair deal more than just the subtleties of 19th century gender politics.
The newly-released novel was penned by Seth Grahame-Smith, the writer behind upcoming movie Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, starring Natalie Portman.
Burton and Bekmambetov, who previously teamed up to produce 2009 fantasy film 9, have now signed a producing deal to help turn Grahame-Smith's story into a movie, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The book re-imagines the life of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln as a highly-trained vampire killer.
Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov are teaming up for an adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the latest literary mash-up from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies author Seth Grahame-Smith. The book, published on Tuesday, pits the 16th US President as an axe-wielding vampire assassin with a personal grudge to bear.
Grahame-Smith will adapt the screenplay while producers -- including Jim Lemley -- are out to directors, according to reports.
Burton, Bekmambetov and Lemley most recently collaborated on the animated feature 9.
Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has been on the New York Times Best Seller list for 46 weeks. It is being developed at Lionsgate with Natalie Portman and David O. Russell.
The Star Wars beauty has been busy promoting her new movie Brothers, and recently wrapped filming on period comedy Your Highness with James Franco.
Portman went straight back to work with director Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan, which she is currently shooting, and she's then set to join Robert De Niro and director Kenneth Branagh in the comic-book adaptation of Thor.
The 28 year old has also just signed on to tackle Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's book which adds flesh-eating monsters to Jane Austin's period novel.
And that's not all - she recently produced her first movie, Hesher, and adapted Amos Oz's novel A Tale of Love and Darkness for the big screen, which she hopes to also direct.
The ambitious actress admits she's struggling to juggle all the different projects and maybe shouldn't have committed herself to so much work.
She tells Marie Claire magazine, "I overdid it. It was like an all-you-can-eat buffet, and I was like, 'I'm hungry!' And now I'm like, 'Oh, s**t!'
"I tend to get overambitious with what I can do."