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'10 Things I Hate About You' and other gems inspired by classics in the public domain

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Coming soon to theaters, a new vision of terror in Hundred Acre Wood.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WINNIE THE POOH: BLOOD AND HONEY")

NIKOLAI LEON: (As Christopher Robin) We should be close now.

PAULA COIZ: (As Mary) We're not going to find them.

LEON: (As Christopher Robin) We will. Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore - we were friends for many years, and they're out there.

SIMON: That's the trailer for an upcoming movie called "Winnie The Pooh: Blood And Honey." It casts A.A. Milne's beloved characters as monsters on the hunt for Christopher Robin, who's abandoned them.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WINNIE THE POOH: BLOOD AND HONEY")

LEON: (As Christopher Robin, screaming).

SIMON: Well, this movie can be created without a lawsuit from the Milne estate because Winnie the Pooh has lapsed into the public domain. Copyright protections generally only last for 95 years in the U.S., so any work published before 1927 can be reimagined, if you please - performed, rewritten, twisted however anyone pleases, Tigger be damned. "Winnie The Pooh: Blood And Honey" got us thinking about some other movies, books, TV shows and musicals that were made once copyright protections ended, like "Pride And Prejudice And Zombies."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES")

SAM RILEY: (As Mr. Darcy) A woman must have a thorough knowledge of singing, dancing and the art of war.

SIMON: There's also "Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters" - also, Gregory Maguire's "Wicked" book series exploring Oz before Dorothy Gale. It began in 1995 and became the basis for the hit musical "Wicked."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DEFYING GRAVITY")

IDINA MENZEL: (Singing) It's time to try defying gravity.

SIMON: We asked Margaret H. Willison, a writer and podcaster with Not Sorry Productions, for some of her favorite works based on things in the public domain.

MARGARET H WILLISON: I would be remiss if I did not start with the all-time classic teen comedy "10 Things I Hate About You," which is one of the weird boomlet of Shakespeare-based teen movies that came out in the late '90s. There are the ones you know you remember, but then there are the ones you've definitely forgotten, like "Get Over It," starring Kirsten Dunst, Ben Foster and Sisqo, which is an adaptation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GET OVER IT")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Once, Berke Landers' life was a high school senior's dream.

KIRSTEN DUNST: (As Kelly Woods) This would all be perfect if it weren't for...

SHANE WEST: (As Bentley 'Striker' Scrumfeld) Do you care to dance?

ZOE SALDANA: (As Maggie) Ouch.

SIMON: Another author with a rich collection of teen movies - Jane Austen...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CLUELESS")

ALICIA SILVERSTONE: (As Cher Horowitz) Ew, get off of me. Ugh, as if.

SIMON: ...Including "Clueless," starring Alicia Silverstone.

WILLISON: The way that it takes the fine social observations and petty drama that Jane Austen made an entire career out of and shifts them so perfectly to this different milieu and the way that it shows how indelible these character types are.

SIMON: Other popular characters - Dracula, of course, has been featured and staked in the TV series "Buffy The Vampire Slayer." As for Sherlock Holmes, Margaret H. Willison says there's the CBS show "Elementary" with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu.

WILLISON: And its initial kernel is starting with understanding Sherlock Holmes as an addict.

SIMON: And for books, Margaret Willison recommends "The Eyre Affair" by Jasper Fforde. It follows a hyperliterate society and detective on the trail.

WILLISON: A supervillain has created a machine that lets him step into books and kidnap people out of them. And he kidnaps Jane Eyre out of "Jane Eyre."

SIMON: Out of thin air - get it? Currently all works before 1927 are in the public domain. But what might be next? William Faulkner's "The Sound And The Fury" meets the "Fast & Furious"? Ernest Hemingway's "A Farewell To Arms" and legs? Ha, ha, ha. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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