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Anne Rice’s ‘Vampire Chronicles’ Takes Flight at Universal

Setting up a potential vampire franchise, Universal Pictures has acquired movie rights to Anne Rice’s novels in “The Vampire Chronicles” series for Brian Grazer and Imagine Entertainment.

Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are on board to produce.

The deal — announced Thursday — includes the adapted screenplay for Rice’s “The Tale of the Body Thief” written by her son, author Christopher Rice. Other novels in the series include “Interview with the Vampire” and the upcoming “Prince Lestat.”

Rice published “Interview with the Vampire” in 1976 and “The Vampire Lestat” in 1985, followed by “The Queen of the Damned” (1988), “The Tale of the Body Thief” (1992), “Memnoch the Devil”  (1995), “The Vampire Armand” (1998), “Merrick” (2000), “Blood and Gold” (2001), “Blackwood Farm” (2002), “Blood Canticle” (2003) and “Prince Lestat” this year.

The series is centered on the fictional character Lestat de Lioncourt, a French aristocrat living in poverty who became a vampire in the late 18th century.

Imagine president Erica Huggins will oversee films based on the series for Imagine Entertainment, and Bobby Cohen will exec produce.

An earlier adaptation of the story, “Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles,” starred Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in 1994 and was a strong performer for Warner Bros., with $220 million in worldwide box office.

A film version of Rice’s “Queen of the Damned,” also part of “The Vampire Chronicles,” starred Aaliyah and Stuart Townsend in 2002 and grossed $45 million worldwide for Warners.

Despite the amount of love the book received, the film version of “Queen of the Damned” was panned by critics and Rice fans alike. It has only a 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, indicating a generally negative reception.

Kurtzman and Orci have teamed on multiple projects including “Transformers,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Now You See Me” and “Cowboys and Aliens.” Kurtzman is also on board to direct a reboot of “The Mummy” for Universal.

Anne Rice is represented by CAA, literary agent Lynn Nesbit of Janklow & Nesbit Associates and attorney Christine Cuddy of Kleinberg, Lange, Cuddy and Carlo. Christopher Rice is repped by Resolution, Janklow & Nesbit Associates and attorney Christine Cuddy of Kleinberg, Lange, Cuddy and Carlo.

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