Random House, Focus Features team up for new spin on ‘Pride and Prejudice’ story

By Daniel S Levine,

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice might be 200 years old, but the story continues to be a goldmine for Hollywood. Focus Features and Random House Studio unit have quickly snapped up the rights to Longbourne, a new novel that tells the story from a new point of view.

Longbourne was written by Jo Baker and won’t be published until this fall. It tells the story as the Bennet family estate servants saw it. Transworld will publish it in the U.K., Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Random House in Canada, notes The Hollywood Reporter. It is also guaranteed an international audience as well, since translation rights have already been picked up in several territories.

“Jane Austen was my first experience of grown-up literature,” Baker said in a statement released through the studios, reports The Wrap. “But as I read and re-read her books, I began to become aware that if I'd been living at the time, I wouldn't have got to go to the ball; I would have been stuck at home with the sewing. Just a few generations back, my family were in service. Aware of that English class thing, Pride and Prejudice begins to read a little differently.”

Focus CEO James Schamus also praised Baker’s work, noting that, “By compellingly exploring new avenues in the world of Pride and Prejudice she has fashioned a tale of a caliber that filmmakers dream about.”

Pride and Prejudice has been adapted to the screen several times, including the 2005 film with Keira Knightly and the 1995 mini-series with Colin Firth. Seth Grahame-Smith also wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which Lionsgate hopes to turn into a movie, in 2009.

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