Like many of her fans, best-selling author Anne Rice would like to see her most famous creations on television. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but in a Facebook post yesterday, the creator of The Vampire Chronicles said that she has regained theatrical rights to the seminal series of novels that single-handledly redefined the vampire genre in the 1970s and 80s, and is now beginning work on a proposed television series adaptation.
“The theatrical rights to the Vampire Chronicles are once again in my hands, free and clear! I could not be more excited about this! — A television series of the highest quality is now my dream for Lestat, Louis, Armand, Marius and the entire tribe,” Rice said. Rice says she’ll be developing a script for a pilot alongside her son, novelist and columnist Christopher Rice. The pair will also be creating “a detailed outline” for an ongoing show that would, she says, tell the story laid out over the novel series’ 12-installments “faithfully”.
The Vampire Chronicles began with 1976’s “Interview With The Vampire,” which introduced readers to Louis, a French colonial aristocrat in 18th century New Orleans turned into an undead bloodsucker by the charismatic and dangerous Lestat. The book’s sequel, 1985’s The Vampire Lestat, made the titular character the main protagonist and subsequent books have been largely centered on his further adventures, which include exploring the origins of vampires, an encounter with Satan, and in the next installment, due out November 29, a trip to Atlantis.
Theatrical rights were held for years by Warner Bros, which tried twice to launch the novels as a film franchise. The first, 1994’s Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles starred Brad Pitt as Louis and Tom Cruise as Lestat, alongside Antonio Banderas, Christian Slater, and Kirsten Dunst. The film was a solid hit, earning $223 million off a $60 million budget, but neither Cruise nor Pitt opted for a sequel. A second film, Queen of the Damned, based on the third novel in the series, was released in 2002. This time starring Stuart Townsend as Lestat and R&B singer Aaliyah in her final film role, the film flopped, taking in just $45 million from a much smaller $35 million budget.
Attempts to revisit the series on film have since then been stillborn. In 2012, Imagine Entertainment began early development of a film based on the fourth novel in the series, Tale Of The Body Thief, but the project was canned less than a year later due to creative differences. Universal acquired rights to the series in 2014 with an interest in bringing Body Thief to theaters, but ultimately didn’t move forward.
The experience of trying to adapt her novels for film seems to have convinced Rice to stay away from the big screen. “As many of you know, Universal Studios and Imagine Entertainment had optioned the series to develop motion pictures from it, and though we had the pleasure of working with many fine people in connection with this plan, it did not work out. It is, more than ever, abundantly clear that television is where the vampires belong,” she said on Facebook.
Fans reaching for bottles of champagne should note however that the proposed television series is still very much in the early, early, early stages. Rice says she’ll be talking to potential producers once she and Christopher Rice have completed the pilot script and series bible.