File this one under unlikely casting scenarios. In an Austenian twist of fate, Dakota Johnson and Succession’s Sarah Snook will each play an unmatchable spinster in separate adaptations of Persuasion, Jane Austen’s final novel. News of Johnson’s film, which will be helmed by Carrie Cracknell and premiere on Netflix, was announced on Tuesday. Snook’s project, to be directed by Mahalia Belo for Searchlight, was confirmed back in September.
Released posthumously in 1818, Austen’s last work tells the story of Anne Elliot, a strong-willed woman who commits the mortal sin of being (gasp!) an unmarried 27-year-old. Years after declining a proposal from the naval officer Frederick Wentworth, she is forced to reckon with her choices amidst her family’s own financial downfall.
No release dates for the competing Persuasion movies have been reported, but each is likely racing toward a finish line. Johnson’s, written by Ron Bass and Alice Victoria Winslow, is being billed as a “modern, witty approach” to the classic tale, per Variety. Filming is poised to start next month. Meanwhile, Snook’s potentially more traditional take is written by Jessica Swale and has already found its Captain Wentworth in Game of Thrones alum Joel Fry.
Hollywood has a grand tradition of similarly plotted movies being released in close succession, one that includes films like Michael Fassbender’s 2015 Steve Jobs and Ashton Kutcher’s 2013 Jobs, as well as Philip Seymour Hoffman’s 2005 Capote versus Toby Jones’s Infamous in 2006. Johnson and Snook’s literary character has been portrayed onscreen several times before as well: Sally Hawkins played the role in a 2007 ITV adaptation, while Amanda Root starred in 1995’s version.
As for which adaptation will reign supreme critically or at the box office, it’s difficult to predict. While Johnson has a more proven film track record, it’s clear that nobody puts Shiv Roy in the corner.
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