A Preview of the Emma (2020) Movie Adaptation of Jane Austen’s Classic Novel

Detail of Emma 2020 movie poster Focus Features © 2020

UPDATED 12/16/19 – in honor of Jane Austen’s birthday today, Focus Features has premiered the second trailer.  Scroll down to view.  There are some amusing lines. This new adaptation just gets better and better.

Janeites are all aflutter over the forthcoming release of the new Focus Features movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel Emma, starring Anya Taylor-Joy as the misapplying matchmaker Miss Emma Woodhouse and Johnny Flynn as Mr. Knightley, her older, and wiser neighbor. This new feature film was shot entirely in England in period-accurate settings and costumes this past summer. It will premiere in the UK on February 14th and in the US on February 21st, 2020.

Emma, Jane Austen’s most highly acclaimed novel has been adapted for radio, stage, television, and feature films many times, most recently for television in 2009 starring Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller, and for the screen in 1996 starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam in the starring roles. While Austen’s most famous and most widely adapted novel Pride and Prejudice wins the popularity race with fans, critics and connoisseurs consider Emma her masterpiece. Some early readers complained it was about nothing. Over the centuries those opinions have changed. I find it subtle, sly and hysterical. Contemporary writer-director Amy Heckerling agreed and based her 1995 teen movie Clueless on it to much acclaim.

Directed by Autumn de Wilde, with a screenplay by Eleanor Catton based on Jane Austen’s 1815 novel, we can see from the first trailer released today, that Emma 2020 will supply a visual and comedic treat. The advance publicity of this new film asks us to “Behold a new vision of Jane Austen’s beloved comedy about love and all of its surprises.” I am all anticipation. Here is a description from the production company publicity machine and the first trailer for your enjoyment.


Jane Austen’s beloved comedy about finding your equal and earning your happy ending is reimagined in this delicious new film adaptation of Emma. Handsome, clever, and rich, Emma Woodhouse is a restless queen bee without rivals in her sleepy little town. In this glittering satire of social class and the pain of growing up, Emma must adventure through misguided matches and romantic missteps to find the love that has been there all along.




  • Miss Emma Woodhouse               Anya Taylor-Joy
  • Mr. George Knightley                   Johnny Flynn
  • Mr. Woodhouse                            Bill Nighy
  • Miss Harriet Smith                        Mia Goth
  • Miss Bates                                     Miranda Hart
  • Mr. Elton                                        Josh O’Connor
  • Mr. Frank Churchill                         Callum Turner
  • Mr. Weston                                     Rupert Graves
  • Mrs. Weston                                    Gemma Whelan
  • Miss Jane Fairfax                             Amber Anderson
  • Mrs. Elton                                        Tanya Reynolds
  • Mrs. John Knightley                         Chloe Pirrie
  • Director                                            Autumn de Wilde
  • Screen Adaptor                                Eleanor Catton
  • Costume Designer                           Alexandra Byrne
  • Music                                                Isobel Waller-Bridge

Anya Taylor-Joy (left) as "Emma Woodhouse" and Johnny Flynn (right) as "Mr. Knightley" in director Autumn de Wilde's EMMA, a Focus Features release. Credit : Focus Features 2020

Anya Taylor-Joy as “Miss Emma Woodhouse and Johnny Flynn as Mr. Knightley in director Autumn de Wilde’s Emma, © Focus Features 2020


I am very encouraged by the tone that the director and the screenwriter have taken to feature Austen’s Emma as the comedy of manners that the book so deftly delivers. Many period drama fans will recognize the famous British actors that have been cast to portray Jane Austen’s lively and humorous characters. Now, if the screenplay is as good as it looks, Jane Austen fans are in for a big treat.

Emma, by Eleanor Catton, based on Jane Austen’s novel
Focus Features, February 14, 2020

Images, movie description, and trailer courtesy of Focus Features © 2020; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2019, Austenprose.com

17 thoughts on “A Preview of the Emma (2020) Movie Adaptation of Jane Austen’s Classic Novel

Add yours

  1. On the one hand I’m looking forward to this but on the other hand I feel that we have enough good versions of Emma, and although the last one was 10 years ago, there are other books that could do with an adaptation more – a film length Persuasion, perhaps, or a version of Mansfield Park that is more true to the book. I will still watch it, though, and hope that they’ve done the book justice :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ceri, I think every new generation deserves their version of an Austen novel. Ten years is a long time and it is a compliment to Austen and her staying power. I would also like to see other adaptations of classics, so if this new Emma is popular, it will encourage movie producers to make more period drama. That is a good thing, right?


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