Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner have spent years trying to frame an epic film about President Lincoln and his agonizing decision to prolong the war and crush the South because it was the only way to abolish slavery. But now I’ve learned that directors Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov have found another angle on the Lincoln story: Abe’s lifelong mission to kill vampires. They’ll produce with Jim Lemley a movie adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the Seth Grahame-Smith novel that Grand Central Publishing released today.
Graham-Smith kicks off with the revelation that Lincoln’s mother was killed by a supernatural creature, which fueled his passion to crush vampires and their slave-owning helpers. The novel depicts the 16th U.S. president as an axe-throwing, highly trained vampire killer. The author is making a career of marrying classic tales with a genre bent, and this becomes his second film deal after Lionsgate and Natalie Portman signed on to adapt Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which infuses a familiar Jane Austen tale with an attack of bloodthirsty zombies. David O. Russell is circling that project as director and Portman is producing and playing the feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet.
Burton, whose Alice in Wonderland opens Friday, has long been a fan of macabre subject matter, with an adaptation of Dark Shadows looming for him and Johnny Depp. Bekmambetov, who despite reports continues to work on his Wanted sequel, covered the bloodsucker terrain with his 2004 Russian film Night Watch. The filmmakers are both repped by WME’s Mike Simpson and used their own money for the option. No studio is involved as of yet.