Outlander Book Series Coming to the Big Screen

Essential Pictures is developing a potential franchise of films based on Outlander, a series of six fantasy novels by Diana Gabaldon. Not to be confused with the potentially bad ass Alien / Viking movie of the same name, which seems to have gotten the shaft from The Weinstein Co.

Braveheart scribe Randall Wallace penned the script, which has already been sent out to potential directors. The goal is to begin production in Spring 2009. The first book in the series, titled Outlander, tells the story of Claire Randall, who travels through time to the eighteenth century Scottish Highlands. Here is the official plot synopsis from the book:

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another… In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon–when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life …and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Sounds like your typical genre-rom story (ick… romantic genre… and you thought romantic comedies were bad). Unfortunately, with the rise of Twilight, there is a good chance that we’ll see more and more of these types of novels adapted for the big screen.

source: Variety

Will Smith Gets Epic with “The Last Pharaoh”

It seems that everybody is getting their turn at historical epics these days, and now Will Smith is going to have his chance with The Last Pharaoh.  Working with a script by Braveheart screenwriter Randall Wallace, Smith is set to play the Nubian pharaoh Taharqa—who is most famous for defending ancient Egypt against invasions by the Assyrian king Esarhaddon. The film will apparently focus on this conflict.

The Last Pharaoh was initially announced back in March with a script by Carl Franklin (Out of Time, Devil in a Blue Dress), but obviously things went awry. Franklin’s screenwriting history is fairly thin, and the closest he’s come to an epic film is directing an episode of Rome, so the film is probably better off in the hands of Wallace.

While inconsistent (Wallace also wrote The Man in the Iron Mask, and Pearl Harbor), he has at least proven he knows what makes a good epic screenplay. As for Smith, I can’t quite picture him in a massive historical epic—but then again maybe that’s just because he’s not Orlando Bloom.

My excitement for this film will rest primarily on who they choose to direct. Honestly, I’m a bit burned out on the genre—and I fear general audiences may be as well—after the recent failures of Troy and Alexander. I loved the Kingdom of Heaven director’s cut, but the version most audiences saw in theaters was still somewhat weak. 300 sort of brought audiences back to the genre, but obviously it can’t justifiably be compared to realistic epics. I just hope whoever they choose to direct this film can do something beyond more of the same.

Source: Variety

Discuss: Do you think Will Smith is due for his own historical epic? Are you still excited for the genre?