If you thought Hollywood had already created every version of Romeo and Juliet possible, think again. The star-crossed lovers are about to head back to the big screen, and this time they’re reportedly getting an action movie-style makeover, courtesy of Sony Pictures.
According to Hollywood Reporter, the studio is in final negotiations to pick up Verona, the latest retelling of William Shakespeare’s classic tale, written by Neil Widener and Gavin James. Named after the Italian city in which the play is set, the upcoming movie will reportedly reimagine the love affair between the two teens from opposing families as a large-scale action saga in the vein of 300.
It’s an unexpected take on the timeless story, given that Zack Snyder’s 300 was a gritty and fantastical war epic, based on Frank Miller’s comic book about the battle between the Greeks and Persians. More specific details about the project are still being kept tightly under wraps, so it’s still unclear whether Verona plans on remaking Shakespeare’s romance completely or simply giving it a more heightened and stylized aesthetic. Whatever route the film takes though, it’s clear that audiences should expect a Romeo and Juliet that’s completely unlike any of the many retellings we’ve seen before.
Though the project has no director attached so far, THR reports that Joe Roth is attached to produce. Roth is familiar with bringing new versions of well-known stories to the big screen, having worked on several major fairy tale adaptations in recent years, like Maleficent and the upcoming Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass and The Huntsman.
Shakespeare’s works have long since been a favorite source of inspiration for Hollywood and Romeo and Juliet, in particular, seems to be regaining popularity as a choice for adaptation lately. In the past several years, the classic forbidden love story has spurred all kinds of reinventions, from the animated comedy film Gnomeo and Juliet to the 2013 zombie-related take, Warm Bodies. Broadcast networks have also jumped on the bandwagon, with the CW attempting a sci-fi version of the story in last year’s short-lived drama, Star-Crossed.
The trend is only set to continue, with several projects based on the romance tale still headed our way. Verona is actually only the latest developing feature film to put an unconventional spin on Romeo and Juliet. This past fall, it was announced that Gremlins director Joe Dante would reimagine the story as a vampire-werewolf romance set in a financial crisis-ridden Italy. Meanwhile, Universal has also been developing a comedic version of the tale, entitled Rosaline, since last year, with the now Oscar-nominated Felicity Jones once attached to star.
The Shakespeare craze isn’t only limited to the Romeo and Juliet story either. As announced in November, the playwright has also recently inspired the upcoming fantasy CW series, Shakespeare Sisters, produced by NCIS star Mark Harmon.
As for Verona, audiences will have to stay tuned to see how the eccentric, action-style treatment of the familiar romance tale will actually play out. The project is reportedly only in the early stages of development, so no premiere date or casting information has been set just yet.