James McAvoy and Emily Blunt are in negotiations to play the title roles of Gnomeo and Juliet, a CGI-animated Shakespeare adaptation from Miramax and Elton John’s Rocket Pictures, says The Hollywood Reporter.
The film will feature several John classics but not Kate Winslet; she was first attached to voice Juliet two years ago and fell out because of scheduling conflicts. Tim Rice also was approached to write original songs with his “Lion King” partner John at the time, but the soundtrack now will be filled with the performer’s well-known hits and possibly a few new tracks.
In the loose and edgy adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, McAvoy (Wanted) and Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) would play lovers from rival gardens. John, who is producing alongside his offscreen partner David Furnish, Baker Bloodworth and Steve Hamilton Shaw, is said to be pursuing big-name talent to voice supporting roles.
Kelly Asbury will direct from an original script by Rob Sprackling and John R. Smith. Kevin Cecil, Andy Riley and Mark Burton have worked on later versions of the screenplay. Now in the storyboard stage, production is expected to be completed by 2010.