Anne Rice‘s Vampire Chronicles will make its return to the big screen, thanks to Universal Pictures, which just picked up the filming rights to the popular novel series for Brian Grazer and Imagine Entertainment, according to Variety.
Star Trek writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci will produce the films, which will include the adapted screenplay written by Rice’s son, author Christopher Rice, for the fourth novel, Tale of the Body Thief that Grazer and Imagine had optioned back in 2012.
In an announcement earlier this year that delighted many, Rice revealed that her next book, Prince Lestat: The Vampire Chronicles (due out this October), will see the return of vampire Lestat de Lioncourt and will be a sequel to her first five vampire books through the fifth novel, 1995′s Memnoch the Devil, and is a “true sequel” to 1988′s Queen Of The Damned.
One item of note in Variety’s report is the opening line “Setting up a potential “Twilight”-like franchise” — I’m hoping that’s just the trade taking liberties in assuming that Universal is going for the Twilight vibe. Rice’s books are well-written and serious, and while I hope the movies do extremely well, I would hope they aren’t geared at the PG-13 audience.
At one time, in the pre-Twilight days, Rice’s vampire novels were the standard, second only to Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula, and by the early 1990s, a whole contingency of goths had adopted The Vampire Chronicles as there own. With its surge in popularity at the time, it was no surprise that Warner Bros./Geffen Pictures adapted the first novel, 1976’s Interview with the Vampire, for the big screen back in 1994. And, the film, which starred Brad Pitt, was Rated R, keeping with the tone of Rice’s novel. But the casting of Lestat was met with controversy — Rice at the time didn’t approve of Tom Cruise in the role, but later changed her mind — and fans were on the fence when it came to the faithfulness of the movie compared to Rice’s book. Even though the film came in first place at the box office its opening weekend and was considered a commercial success, no immediate sequel was planned (this was back in the days where sequels were mainly considered to be junk).
In 2002, even though Warners had the rights to the second book, The Vampire Lestat, they chose to make a sequel that incorporated elements of that book and the third novel, Queen Of The Damned, but the new installment was damned from the start. First off, it was created as a direct-to-video sequel, which back then was the worst kind of sequel possible. This time around, Stuart Townsend was cast as Lestat, with Aaliyah as the vampire queen Akasha, but she was killed in a plane crash before post-production was completed, leaving the singer’s brother, Rashad, to re-dubbed some of her lines. It was Aaliyah’s death six months prior that prompted the studio to release the film in theaters, where it did well and earned more than its budget, regardless of the negative reviews it received and the huge liberties it took with the script.
Since then, the franchise laid dormant, with Grazer and Imagine’s initial plans for Body Thief falling through in 2013. We’ll have to wait and see what Universal and the producers have in store for The Vampire Chronicles this time around.
By the way, the 72-year-old best-selling author is perhaps unknown to today’s young adult readers who are fans of Twilight and The Hunger Games, but she’s been paving the way for the surge in popularity of the supernatural for years. On top of that, her erotic BDSM Sleeping Beauty trilogy, penned in the mid-1980s under the pseudonym of A.N. Roquelaure, pre-dates the Fifty Shades series by decades.