A big-screen adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s bestselling 2009 novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies — a zombie-fueled spin on Jane Austen’s classic romance novel Pride and Prejudice — has been in the works for over five years now, and the project finally appears to be nearing the finish line with the recent announcement of its official release date.
Directed by Burr Steers (Igby Goes Down), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies will arrive in theaters February 19, 2016.
Grahame-Smith’s novel, which offered an “expanded” take on Austen’s novel about the complicated relationships that develop between a group of sisters and their lovers in 19th century England, became a word-of-mouth success when it was first published in 2009. Combining much of the setting, characters, and plot points of Austen’s tale with ample doses of gory zombie mayhem (and a few ninjas with a knack for fighting the undead), the novel was one of several published around the same time that mixed public-domain literary works with modern pop-culture elements (including Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Android Karenina, among others).
The movie rights to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies were snatched up shortly after publication, but the project hit a few snags along the way to production that resulted in changes to both the primary cast and the creative team. Originally slated to star Natalie Portman and be directed by Oscar-nominated Silver Linings Playbook filmmaker David O. Russell, the project stalled out for several years before it was recast and cameras began rolling in September 2014.
The film now stars Lily James (Downton Abbey) as Elizabeth Bennet, who has been trained to fight zombies alongside her sisters but finds herself caught up in the social dilemmas of the time when her mother seeks to marry her and the other young Bennet ladies off to wealthy suitors. Her sisters are played by Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows), Ellie Bamber (A Mother’s Son), Millie Brady (Mr. Selfridge), and Suki Waterhouse (The Divergent Series: Insurgent). The cast is filled out by Maleficent actor Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy, Boardwalk Empire actor Jack Huston as Wickham, and former Doctor Who star Matt Smith as Mr. Collins.