Romeo and Juliet to Be Done Again Like Never Before

By  · Published on March 20th, 2015

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Between all the direct adaptations, the loose adaptations, the updates and modernizations and other inspired versions of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” it would seem we’ve seen everything that can be done with that story of star-crossed lovers. But the truth is there’s at least one more way to do the tragic romance that hasn’t been done before. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sony picked up a spec script for a movie called Verona, which is yet another retelling of the Bard’s play, which itself was a remake of the Roman myth “Pyramus and Thisbe.”

What’s so special about this one that makes it different? Well, as devised by relatively unknown filmmakers Neil Widener (Subdivision, Colorado) and Gavin James (Footsteps), the pitch here is for a gritty and epic “Romeo and Juliet,” in a style akin to Zack Snyder’s 300. Of course, that movie looks and feels the way it does because it’s lifting straight from Frank Miller’s stylized comic book series. But will it mimic that same look and feel, and if so for what reason other than to be cool?

Verona will be produced by Joe Roth, who has been doing a lot of heightened takes on the classics, including Disney’s Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent and Oz the Great and Powerful plus non-Disney fairy tale films Snow White and the Huntsman and its upcoming sequel and Neverland, which is a “Peter Pan” redo for Sony. He’s apparently never done anything Shakespearean, though he is working on Shekhar Kapur’s third Elizabeth movie, Elizabeth: The Dark Age, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was at least a character cameo of the playwright.

As for other future versions of “Romeo and Juliet,” I wouldn’t be surprised if Hollywood does look to comics for inspiration and actual ideas. There’s already plans to adapt Stan Lee’s graphic novel “Romeo and Juliet: The War,” which is a sci-fi take set in the future, and then there’s Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery’s series “Kill Shakespeare,” which is a shared universe thing with characters from the Bard’s various famous works – how are studio execs not already fighting over that property and idea?

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.