After the disastrous debut of The Mummy in 2017 and the immediate implosion of the Dark Universe, Universal Studios was forced to reconfigure their ideas for their classic monsters in the modern age. Since then the studio has taken an approach similar to Warner Bros. and DC's strategy with the Joker movie, filmmaker driven projects that are focused solely on telling their own story and not getting wrapped up in the minutiae of a cinematic universe. The Invisible Man will debut in theaters next year as the first of these projects with Paul Feig working on an untitled "Monster movie" project in the same vein. Now word has come down about yet another project from this initiative.
Variety reports that Universal is developing a movie titled Renfield, described as “a monster movie centered on Dracula’s henchman.” The pitch for the film comes from The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, which will be scripted by Rick and Morty writer Ryan Ridley. Rocketman director Dexter Fletcher is on board to helm the feature film which will reportedly take place in modern day and not be a period piece. This marks a big change for Fletcher whose two most recent features were musical biopics set in the 1960s to 80s (Fletcher previously finished directing Bohemian Rhapsody for 20th Century Fox, despite Bryan Singer receiving final credit).
The Renfield character made his debut in Bram Stoker's original Dracula novel back in1897 and has been a staple of the character's story from that text for years with a version of him appearing F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu, the first adaptation of the book (though unofficial and with major alterations). In the text, Renfield was a servant of Dracula that was bound to an insane asylum, allowing readers to learn more about Dracula's vampirism as he himself indulges in eating insects and small animals for their blood. Tod Browning's 1931 Dracula from Universal Pictures featured actor Dwight Frye in the role with his performance proving a major highlight of the classic movie despite his character also undergoing a major change from the novel.
This new film will mark the first Dracula movie from Universal Pictures in just a few years after Dracula Untold debuted and promptly bombed in 2014. Before that the studio made had another ambitious attempt to redo their classic monsters with 2004's Van Helsing, another misguided retread of the characters and places from those films.
What do you think of Universal's new strategy for their classic monsters? Do you think audiences will be interested in a take on the Dracula mythos that doesn't focus on the vampire lord? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below.