To label the works of Jane Austen as a 200-year-old franchise is like plucking the wings off a butterfly, isn’t it? Well, it was said, without too much irony, at one panel discussion at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego. Sure, there was some irony, since we’re all comedians now with impeccable timing, but the intent was to strategize on how to get the most out of Austen. And what would Jane Austen have to say about this? Producers would be interested to know, especially if she could pitch to them a new show. Franchises just aren’t what they used to be. Original content is scarce.
How about this: an old sleepy fishing village is caught in the intrigue of being converted into a resort, complete with family drama and romance. The working title is “Sandition.” That was the last novel that Jane Austen was working on before her death in 1817. She only got through the first eleven chapters. But thanks to the entertainment industry, we don’t have to settle for academic speculation over the original unfinished manuscript. That source material becomes the next young adult sensation.
“Welcome to Sandition” is the ultimate Austen reboot. Working from the original unfinished manuscript, this “mini webseries” is set in California and is from the creators of the “Pride and Prejudice” reboot, “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.”
This panel was put together by the New York Film Academy, entitled, “Story Worlds: The Alchemy of Franchise Creation,” and explores the ever-evolving world of storytelling and transmedia. And, as bewildering as it all may seem, given a chance to catch her breath, Ms. Austen just might approve.