The planned series based on Anne Rice’s “The Vampire Chronicles” is no longer in the works at Hulu, Variety has confirmed. According to sources, Rice and her team are once again shopping her intellectual property — but this time as a much larger TV package, and as a complete buyout of the TV/film rights.
According to one insider, the new package being shopped includes both “The Vampire Chronicles” and also Rice’s “Mayfair Witches,” which is currently set up at Warner Bros. The asking price is said to be around $30 to $40 million, in addition to a $2.5 million buyout of Warner Bros.’ rights. In exchange for the huge upfront fee however, the new owner will hold the rights in perpetuity, and not just as an option.
“The Vampire Chronicles” series follows vampire Lestat de Lioncourt who serves as hero, antihero, and narrator. Paramount Television and Anonymous Content had previously been attached to produce the project for Hulu, but their rights have expired for the package, opening the door for Rice to shop the new, larger package. The new deal includes “The Mayfair Witches,” about a family of witches, which began in 1990 with the novel “The Witching Hour.” Paramount was said to be among four or so bidders for the new package.
The chronicles of “The Vampire Chronicles” has its own dramatic history. In 2016, Rice revealed in a Facebook post that she had regained the theatrical rights to her vampire series, which had previously been held at Universal and Imagine Entertainment. But Rice wanted to focus on a TV franchise, rather than film.
“A television series of the highest quality is now my dream for Lestat, Louis, Armand, Marius and the entire tribe,” she wrote at the time. “In this the new Golden Age of television, such a series is THE way to let the entire story of the vampires unfold.”
She also said she would develop a pilot script and detailed outline for a series with her son, Christopher Rice, “faithfully presenting Lestat’s story as it is told in the books, complete with the many situations that readers expect to see.”
In 2017, Paramount Television and Anonymous Content optioned the rights to the franchise, which included 11 books from the series, and in January 2018, Bryan Fuller (“Hannibal”) joined the project as showrunner.
But Fuller soon exited the project, and in July 2018, Hulu landed the series after a competitive bidding situation. This past February it was reported that Dee Johnson had taken over as showrunner.
News about the production (which was supposed to take place this fall) had grown quiet in recent months. On December 9, the official “The Vampire Chronicles” Facebook page posted this cryptic note from Anne Rice, Christopher Rice and novelist Eric Shaw Quinn (who is also attached):
“To all the wonderful, loyal and steadfast supporters of this page and of this show. We realize it’s been some time since we’ve given you an update. Please allow me to assure you that magnificently exciting things are happening behind the scenes and we are dyyyyyyyyyying to talk to you about them. But in this particular moment, we are sworn to secrecy. The minute, and I assure you, the MINUTE, we are free to discuss the latest developments, many of them the most exciting since we began work on this, we will do so, and we will do so here. This page is not dead. Like Lestat, this project will live forever. We know you thirst, and we, Lestat and all the others who share the dark gift shall satisfy that thirst very soon.”
Rice has written more than 30 novels, starting with “Interview With the Vampire,” which was turned into a 1994 feature starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.