Universal makes a deal for full run of Anne Rice’s ‘Vampire Chronicles’ novels

It's going to be an interesting next few years for fans of Anne Rice and, specifically, her most famous creation, the Vampire Lestat.

I still remember the furor around the first attempt to adapt the character to the bigscreen, with Rice basically freaking out over the casting of Lestat. Neil Jordan's “Interview With The Vampire” is a beautiful movie, perverse and strange and gorgeously made, and I'd argue it's about as good a film as anyone's ever going to make from that source material.

Right now, though, studios are desperate for properties that allow them to plot big multi-movie franchise arcs, and considering Rice is getting ready to, at long last, publish a 14th book in the series, “The Vampire Chronicles” looks like exactly the sort of investment Universal should be making.

After all, they're one of the few studios that doesn't have a Marvel property they're planning to exploit to death… err, fully explore, I mean. They're talking about turning their own Universal Monsters into a giant shared-world franchise, and the two guys who are overseeing that project, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, are also going to produce the “Vampire Chronicles” movies as well.

When I interviewed Guillermo Del Toro at Comic-Con, we talked about Donna Langley and how her voice as a studio chief is really starting to come into focus. I've lunched with Langley before, and she strikes me as someone who is looking to find some middle-ground between her own personal tastes and what she sees as the demands of the audience.

What I find intriguing is that Universal seems willing to explore the notion of an adult franchise with the “50 Shades Of Grey” movies, and if they're going to be faithful to Anne Rice's vision of the “Vampire Chronicles” world, those could be fairly overtly sexual movies as well. Why not steer into it and let that be the thing that makes your series stand apart?

I've never found Rice's work to be terribly scary, but then again, I don't think that's the point of it. What I want to see now is just how far they're wiling to go with these books. Rice's own son Christopher adapted one of the novels, “Tale Of The Body Thief,” and evidently his screenplay is part of this overall purchase.

There's a lot of material to process here, and some of it seems fairly dated at this point. This isn't going to be an easy adaptation, but if they crack it, there's a chance to satisfy a fairly huge fan base that may have long since given up any thought of seeing these books brought faithfully to life.

“Prince Lestat” is in bookstores in October.