After years of ups and downs—including a brief time at Hulu—the rights to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles novels have now landed at AMC Studios. According to a report in Variety however, Lestat and company have also found a home there with Rice’s other beloved supernatural series, The Lives of the Mayfair Witches.
The deal encompasses 18 of Rice’s novels in total, spanning over 45 years of supernatural storytelling. Like the novels, the vampires and the witches will live in a shared universe. The new deal with AMC is focused on television, but will also include movies and internet content as well. Anne Rice and her son Christopher will serve as executive producers on all future series.
In a statement, the celebrated Gothic writer said, “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.”
Fellow executive producer Christopher Rice added “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.”
No word yet on when production will begin, but given the current COVID-19 pandemic, we shouldn’t expect any real movement on that front until next year. Nevertheless, this is the news fans of these series have been eagerly awaiting.
Before Twilight, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, and even Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the most popular bloodsuckers around were found in the pages of author Anne Rice’s epic series of novels collectively known as The Vampire Chronicles. Focusing on the vampire called Lestat, an aristocratic Frenchman from the 18th century, as well as several other ancient vamps, the books have sold over 100 million copies since the first novel in the series, Interview with the Vampire, was published over 40 years ago.
Now, these beloved vampires are coming to TV in a new series that will soon be on AMC, along with Rice’s celebrated clan of Mayfair Witches from New Orleans. Although the series is still in the earliest stages, here’s everything we know so far about the upcoming historical fantasy drama.
How Did Lestat Go from Movies to TV?
The journey from book to films to television for Anne Rice’s legendary series of novels has been a long and winding one. Interview with the Vampire was originally published in 1976, and almost immediately the movies rights were sold. However, the property changed hands many times, going from studio to studio. The transgressive novel, which had pansexual erotic overtones, proved to be too controversial for the studios of the time.
Despite the fact that Hollywood seemed too scared to make this movie accurately, many attempts were made and several different scripts were written. After Rice wrote the first sequel book, The Vampire Lestat, and its follow-up The Queen of the Damned, interest in what was now “The Vampire Chronicles” gained even more traction. Finally, Warner Bros produced Interview with the Vampire as a big budget film in 1994.
The movie was directed by Neil Jordan, and starred superstar Tom Cruise as Lestat, and then up-and-comer Brad Pitt as Louis, the titular interviewed vampire. The film also famously also introduced Kirsten Dunst as the child vampire Claudia. Though it was a big hit, no follow-up film was ever pursued. The property languished at Warner Bros for many years before the company made a relatively low budget sequel to Interview with Queen of the Damned, pretty much just in an effort to retain the rights.
None of the original cast returned, and actor Stuart Townsend replaced Tom Cruise as Lestat. The film combined elements of the second and third novels in the series, but ultimately resembled neither book, leaving most of the fans bitterly disappointed. Only the late singer Aaliyah, who played the titular Queen Akasha, really left any kind of impression. It is only very loosely based on the original novel of the same name.
As vampire mania spread throughout the world thanks to several other fangtastic movies and shows, the rights to The Vampire Chronicles remained somewhat in limbo. In 2014, Universal Pictures gained the film rights to the series, and a reboot was announced from Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment. Josh Boone was set to direct, and even completed a script. However, that version never got off the ground either.
While all this was happening, it was becoming clear to the fans, and Rice herself, that the small screen would be a far better place in this day and age for a property like The Vampire Chronicles than movies would ever be. In November of 2016, Rice announced that the rights to the entire series of novels had reverted back to her, and it was her plan to produce a television series based on several of the novels, with herself and her novelist son Christopher Rice producing.
Streaming platform Hulu acquired the rights to The Vampire Chronicles series alone for a few years back in 2017, and for a time, Hannibal producer Bryan Fuller was also involved. However, Hulu allowed the rights to lapse in late 2019. For several months, the fate of the series was uncertain, but now AMC has announced that they are producing both of Rice’s most celebrated supernatural series as one large package.
So Who Is Behind the TV Series?
AMC has acquired both series of novels in perpetuity, for both television and film. Both Anne Rice and her son Christopher Rice will be the show’s executive producers, along with Rolin Jones (Friday Night Lights, Weeds) as part of an overall deal with AMC.
Who Is Playing Lestat and the Other Characters?
Although Anne Rice has frequently gone on her Facebook page and solicited the fans advice when it comes to who should play the vampires in the series, no casting decisions have been made so far. The vampires will obviously have to be played by actors who have that kind of eternally youthful appearance so they look more or less the same age over several potential seasons of a show.
Will The Show Cover All the Books in the Series?
The new deal with AMC studios cover a whopping 18 books in both The Vampire Chronicles and The Lives of the Mayfair Witches series. Included in the AMC deal are Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned, The Tale of the Body Thief, Memnoch The Devil, The Vampire Armand, Pandora, Vittorio the Vampire, Blood and Gold, Prince Lestat, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, and Blood Communion: A Tale of Prince Lestat.
From The Lives of The Mayfair Witches series: The Witching Hour, Lasher, and Taltos are all part of the deal. And even The Vampire Chronicles/The Lives Of The Mayfair Witches crossover novels: Merrick, Blackwood Farm and Blood Canticle are included.
Will Season One Begin with Interview with the Vampire?
— Christopher Rice (@chrisricewriter) May 2, 2018
Nope. The second novel in the series, The Vampire Lestat, will be adapted first. Book number two in the Chronicles actually takes place well before the events of Interview, and since Lestat is going to be the protagonist of the television series, the Rices have decided to start there. The Vampire Lestat was overlooked for Queen of the Damned when it came to the big screen, so this is the Rice’s chance to fix that error.
The second book is long enough to comprise up to two seasons of television, so viewers may not meet fan favorite vampires Louis and Claudia until season three…or even later! Christopher Rice has completed work on the pilot script for the series, whose title “Wolf Killer” suggest the show starts right where book two begins. As seen above, Rice tweeted the cover for the script in May of 2018.
When Will The Series Premiere?
Still unknown. With AMC acquiring the rights as of May of 2020, we would imagine that the earliest fans could see the series would be in the summer or fall of 2022, depending on how soon the show goes into production. It may debut as late as 2023 if the coronavirus pandemic pushes production for this even further.
What are you most exited about in regards to Lestat and company making their long awaited live-action comeback? Let us know your thoughts down below in the comments.
Header Images: Warner Bros.