Exclusive: Demme, Reeves Enter Mix for ‘Pride & Prejudice & Zombies’

Mike White and Phil Lord & Chris Miller are also in contention for the coveted Lionsgate gig

EXCLUSIVE

Lionsgate's big screen adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's revisionist novel "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" is heating up, with at least one Oscar-winning filmmaker chasing the coveted gig.

Jonathan Demme has read the script and wants to direct the movie, but he's not the only one interested in the job, as TheWrap has learned that Matt Reeves ("Cloverfield"), Mike White ("Year of the Dog") and the "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller are also in the mix.

Lord and Miller are set to direct "21 Jump Street" for Sony, but that project doesn't have a firm start date yet, so if the studio is set on pairing Jonah Hill with Emma Stone (as rumored), it may have to push the film back until Stone wraps the "Spider-Man" reboot, leaving Lord and Miller time for another project.

White hasn't directed anything on such a grand scale, but he is a veteran screenwriter and producer who is looking to raise his profile behind the camera, and his witty sense of humor could be a good fit for a film described as a Victorian-era "Zombieland."

Reeves is coming off the box office disappointment "Let Me In," but his career still has plenty of heat and he may be the director best suited for this genre material.

However, Demme remains the most enticing possibility. The "Silence of the Lambs" director is under-utilized in Hollywood, preferring to spend his time making documentaries such as "Neil Young: Heart of Gold," "Jimmy Carter Man from Plains" and "Marley," which is currently in post-production. Demme may be anxious to direct another feature film, and it's possible he could convince his "Rachel Getting Married" star Anne Hathaway to dress in period garb and battle the undead.

Previously reported contenders for the director's chair include David Slade ("The Twilight Saga: Eclipse"), Mike Newell ("Prince of Persia") and Neil Marshall ("The Descent").

"The Fighter" director David O. Russell adapted the literary mash-up and originally wanted to cast Natalie Portman as heroine Elizabeth Bennet, but the actress didn't see eye-to-eye with the notoriously headstrong filmmaker, though she remains involved with the project as a producer. Russell has since moved on to Columbia's action-adventure film "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune."

Lionsgate hopes to put "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" into production by early next year, so expect the studio to announce a director before the end of the month.