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.