• Deborah Yaffe

Failure to persuade

“You can never have too much Persuasion,” I opined three months ago, as each day seemed to bring a new announcement of a forthcoming adaptation of Jane Austen’s last completed novel, in versions for stage, screen, and concert hall.


Apparently, however, I was wrong.


In a Vogue Australia interview posted online last week, actor Sarah Snook announced that Searchlight Pictures (formerly Fox Searchlight) has canceled its projected big-screen version of the novel, in which she was to play Anne Elliot opposite Joel Fry’s Captain Wentworth.


“The short story is that Netflix decided to greenlight their own, so Fox abandoned the one we were doing, which is disappointing because it was a great script and a director I really wanted to work with,” Snook told the magazine.


Snook’s Persuasion was announced more than a year ago, but the project remained stuck in pre-production while the Netflix version, which stars Dakota Johnson, began shooting on location in the UK this past spring and summer, ahead of a likely 2022 release.


Snook’s project is hardly the first Austen adaptation that failed to make it off the drawing board. (Remember the Charlotte Rampling Sanditon? The “sparkling like granite” Pride and Prejudice?) Still, the demise of this high-profile project is a sad reminder that we Janeites do not rule the world, or even the world of entertainment. How much better both would function if only we did.

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