Will Anne Rice’s Vampires Finally Take a Bite Out of Television?

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Morbid Planet The Vampire Chronicles
AMC to finally give life to vampires? Picture: AMC.

Will the vampires from Anne Rice’s popular series, The Vampire Chronicles, finally see the light of day, or should I say, dark of night?

The Deal

On May 13, 2020 the AMC network made a massive announcement:

AMC Networks announced today that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Anne Rice’s major literary works, The Vampire Chronicles series and The Lives of the Mayfair Witches series, encompassing 18 titles, including such beloved and celebrated works as Interview With The VampireThe Vampire LestatThe Queen of the Damned, and The Witching Hour.

AMC Networks will hold the comprehensive rights for this world-renowned and globally coveted intellectual property to develop for its own television networks and streaming services under the AMC Studios umbrella, as well as external partner licensing, with Anne Rice and son Christopher Rice serving as executive producers on all series and films. Together, The Vampire Chronicles and The Lives of the Mayfair Witches series have sold more than 150 million copies worldwide.

“There is no shortage of content in today’s competitive environment, but proven IP that has captivated millions of fans around the world is something very special and rare, and that is what Anne Rice has created,” Sarah Barnett, president of AMC Networks Entertainment Group and AMC Studios, said in a statement. “These remarkable stories and characters are massive in their appeal and we are privileged to take over stewardship of these legendary works and collaborate with a talent like Rolin Jones to find ways for new generations of fans to experience these worlds.”

Added Anne Rice in a statement: “It’s always been my dream to see the worlds of my two biggest series united under a single roof so that filmmakers could explore the expansive and interconnected universe of my vampires and witches. That dream is now a reality, and the result is one of the most significant and thrilling deals of my long career.”

The Anne Rice catalog that AMC Networks is acquiring features The Vampire Chronicles series: Interview with the VampireThe Vampire LestatThe Queen of the DamnedThe Tale of the Body ThiefMemnoch The DevilThe Vampire ArmandPandoraVittorio the VampireBlood and GoldPrince LestatPrince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, and Blood Communion: A Tale of Prince LestatThe Lives of The Mayfair Witches series: The Witching HourLasherTaltos; and The Vampire Chronicles/The Lives Of The Mayfair Witches crossover novels: MerrickBlackwood Farm and Blood Canticle.

“AMC Studios is responsible for creating some of the most iconic television series of the modern era and has, at times, single-handedly defined this era we call ‘peak TV,’” Christopher Rice said in a statement. “All the members of Team Anne, including my long-term producing partner, New York Times Bestselling novelist Eric Shaw Quinn, are both thrilled and comforted to know that some of our most cherished kin, from the vampire Lestat and the witch Rowan Mayfair, to the paranormal investigators at the Order of the Talamasca and the powerful spirit Lasher, are now safely in the hands of these vastly accomplished innovators who possess both global reach and deep reservoirs of experience.”

https://www.amc.com/talk/2020/05/amc-networks-acquires-rights-to-the-iconic-works-of-anne-rice

Fans Were Promised a Series Before

Although the partnership seems to be a done deal, I don’t know if fans should get their hopes up. If you look back at the track record for this project, it has been bumpy ride.

Back on November 26, 2016 Anne Rice posted on her Facebook fan page:

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. In this the new Golden Age of television, such a series is THE way to let the entire story of the vampires unfold. — My son Christopher Rice and I will be developing a pilot script and a detailed outline for an open ended series, faithfully presenting Lestat’s story as it is told in the books, complete with the many situations that readers expect to see. We will likely begin with “The Vampire Lestat” and move on from there. —– 

https://www.facebook.com/annericefanpage/posts/10154794260300452?tn=-R

Fast forward to July 17, 2018 and Anne Rice’s Facebook fan page announced a network has picked up her series:

Christopher here with some exciting news to share about our TV series. THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES is coming in for a landing at Hulu, the Emmy-winning broadcaster that brought us one of the most seminal literary TV adaptation of our time, “The Handmaid’s Tale”. There will be many more announcements in the weeks to come, but we wanted to bring you this exciting news right away.

https://www.facebook.com/annericefanpage/posts/10156632422955452?tn=-R

On December 19, 2019 Variety reported the series was dropped:

According to sources, Rice and her team are once again shopping her intellectual property — but this time as a much larger TV package, and as a complete buyout of the TV/film rights.

According to one insider, the new package being shopped includes both “The Vampire Chronicles” and also Rice’s “Mayfair Witches,” which is currently set up at Warner Bros. The asking price is said to be around $30 to $40 million, in addition to a $2.5 million buyout of Warner Bros.’ rights. In exchange for the huge upfront fee however, the new owner will hold the rights in perpetuity, and not just as an option.

https://variety.com/2019/tv/news/anne-rice-vampire-chronicles-hulu-dead-1203449088/

Anne’s Vampires Aren’t Strangers to the Big Screen

Morbid Planet The Vampire Chronicles
Lestat (Tom Cruise), Louis (Brad Pitt), and Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) pushed the vampire genre into a new era back in the 1990s. Picture: DenOfGeek.

Despite trying to make their way to the small screen, Anne’s iconic vampires are no stranger to the big screen. Interview with the Vampire hit theatres twenty-five years ago on November 11, 1994 with Tom Cruise at the helm as the charismatic vampire brat prince, Lestat.

Many people disliked Cruise in the role, including Rice herself, and others felt differently:

“Cruise gave Lestat life,” says Erin Chapman, of the Vampire Studies Association, which has at its mission to “establish vampire studies as a multidisciplinary field by promoting, disseminating and publishing contributions to vampire scholarship”. 

“Lestat comes across as evil, but you get small glimpses of humanity, protruding from his dark soul. He seeks companionship and who wouldn’t after centuries of existence?… The movie encompasses general themes of the book such as good versus evil, love and immortality, and intertwines it all with a supernatural world. Despite the main characters being vampires, they just want what humans want – to be loved.“

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/interview-with-the-vampire-25-tom-cruise-brad-pitt-ann-rice-kirsten-dunst-interview-a9192186.html

The sequel, Queen of the Damned, came along years later in 2002. This time around, Stuart Townsend replaced Cruise as Lestat. The majority of fans were not impressed. Replacing the main character with another actor never sits well with fans, no matter who plays the part.

Morbid Planet The Vampire Chronicles
The Queen of the Damned portrayed Lestat (Stuart Townsend) in a different way that the fans didn’t like. Picture: BloodyDisgusting.

Failed Movie Attempts

Most people don’t know, but there is also a bad track record with potential films in the Vampire Chronicles world. Hence, my skepticism.

On February 7, 2012 The Hollywood Reporter posted fans could be in for a long awaited treat:

Imagine used its partnership with India’s Reliance Big Entertainment to fund the acquisition of Body Thief, and it is using the Imagine Reliance Writers Lab to work on the script. Lee Patterson, who wrote a well-regarded screenplay titled Snatched, is working on Body Thief.

Producing with Imagine are Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the writer-producers behind TV’s Fringe and the Star Trek and Transformers movies.

Karen Kehala-Sherwood, the Imagine exec who oversees the lab, and the company’s Erica Huggins are exec producing.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/anne-rice-tale-of-body-thief-imagine-kurtzman-orci-287742

This wasn’t the only false promise. Two years later, on August 18, 2014, Cinema Blend published something else interesting:

The Wrap reports The Fault In Our Stars helmer Josh Boone is being considered to adapt Rice’s books into a new film called Lestat. However, Imagine Entertainment, which will be working with Universal on The Vampire Chronicles‘ adaptation, is calling this claim “completely untrue.” Regardless, Brian Grazer, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci are set to produce the pic, and The Wrap is dropping details from a source they are standing by even after the denial. 

As fans of Anne Rice have probably guessed from the title Lestat, this will not be a remake of the 1994 drama Interview with a Vampire, which famously starred Brad Pitt as the moody Louis de Pointe du Lac and Tom Cruise as the charismatic and devilish vampire Lestat. Instead, Lestat is said to be a movie inspired by the second and third books of The Vampire Chronicles, namely The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned. Of course, that means it’s still a remake, as these were combined to make the painfully vapid Queen of the Damned in 2002. 

https://www.cinemablend.com/new/Lestat-Movie-Definitely-Happening-Who-Direct-66823.html

Considering the history of these potential television and film franchises, and that either project have transpired into reality, fans may have a long wait.

Only time will tell if Lestat, Louis and the gang will take a bite out of television or not. Perhaps this is a series best left in the coffin?


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Erin Chapman

Erin is the owner of Morbid Planet and Morbid Shopping. She also is a writer and co-admin for Vamped.org., a vampire general interest online magazine.

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