LONDON – U.K. indie production label CHATA Pictures is planning a genre-busting move from low-budget British gangster and horror pictures into low-budget costume drama production.
The company, founded and run by Jonathan Sothcott and Simon Phillips, has picked a doozey to begin its adventures into the world of ball gowns and lace with plans for an adaptation of Jane Austen novel Pride & Prejudice.
Sothcott told THR that while the movie – budgeted at under $5 million – will be a straight, period telling of the novel and not a modern update, the hopes are it will be a “little sexier and perhaps a little more ‘real’ than previous version.”
“It definitely won’t be Fifty Shades of Austen!,” Sothcott said.
The fresh take on the story is penned by Stephen Reynolds.
Reynolds’ previous writing credits include the CHATA produced low budget gangster pic Once Upon A Time In Essex, starring Kate Macgowan, Kierston Wareing and producer/actor Phillips.
Sothcott said the script is out to directors now and expects to sign one “in the next few weeks” for the project currently in pre-production.
“It is very easy to become pigeon-holed as a horror film maker or a gangster film maker but that was never our idea with CHATA – today more than ever, to adapt is to survive,” Sothcott said.
“We’re about telling stories that people want to hear, making populist movies for audiences all over the world, and if ever there was a story people enjoy hearing again it is ‘Pride and Prejudice.'”
The producer cites Downton Abbey as showing the “tremendous appetite for this type of classic romance” adding it is not difficult “to push the envelope just that little but further and make it a bit sexier.”
It’s a long way from the movies CHATA has built a reputation for making which include White Collar Hooligan – for which a sequel is currently filming on location in New York City — and GBH (formerly Riot), an urban crime thriller starring British rising star Nick Nevern.
Austen’s tale has been adapted for the big screen and TV several times in the past and secured Dinah Collin a primetime Emmy for costume design in the 1996 version which starred Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.
Sothcott and Phillips plan to shoot Pride before Christmas on location in the U.K.
The duo are also hatching plans to make a “back-to-basics” period version of Dracula, focusing on “the dark, scary side” of Bram Stoker‘s immortal character.
“On the basis that this works, we’re already developing a period version of Dracula, making the character scary again – kicking against the squishy, shiny Twilight vampires,” Sothcott said.