Universal Pictures’ Renfield has found a new master. Chris McKay, whose Chris Pratt-led action flick The Tomorrow War releases this summer, has been tapped to direct and produce Renfield, a Universal monster movie about Dracula’s unhinged henchman.
Deadline reports that Chris McKay is in talks to direct and produce Renfield, taking over from the previously reported director Dexter Fletcher (Rocketman). Renfield is based on an original story outline from Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, and is scripted by Ryan Ridley.
Fletcher was initially set as the director for Renfield, which will center on R. M. Renfield, a character introduced in Bram Stoker’s original novel Dracula as a patient at a lunatic asylum with a connection to the bloodsucking count. But it appears that Fletcher has departed the project (focusing instead on Paramount’s The Saint reboot). McKay’s star is rising since co-directing The Lego Movie and making his solo directorial debut with The Lego Batman Movie, which was met with commercial and critical acclaim. McKay makes his live-action directorial debut with the upcoming The Tomorrow War, a sci-fi action movie starring Chris Pratt which will receive a July premiere on Amazon Prime Video due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Deadline also reports that McKay won out over a number of directors due to his “ultimate pitch as his ability to balance those [humor and action] in his past projects.” This was a mix that the studio is reportedly looking for, setting it apart from Universal’s other high-profile monster movies like Wolfman starring Ryan Gosling and a James Wan-produced Van Helsing movie.
McKay is joining Skybound Entertainment’s film team, which includes Kirkman, David Alpert, Bryan Furst, and Sean Furst, as producer on the project. McKay’ producing partner Samantha Nisenboim will also be joining the project as executive producer.
Other than that, details remain scarce on Renfield. Here’s what Universal had to say of the project when it was first announced in 2019:
Similar to what’s being done with Blumhouse and Leigh Whannell’s upcoming Invisible Man film inspired by Universal’s classic Monster character, instead of pushing forward with the initial notion of an interconnected universe, the studio halted and reassessed and were reminded that what has led to these characters’ endurance over generations is passion and relevance. Universal remains committed to creating compelling filmmaker-driven projects based on characters from the studios vast monsters legacy.
Instead of prescribing a mandated updating of these monster stories and making them all part of a larger scheme, the studio loosened these restrictions and open-sourced to filmmakers who were inspired to create their own unique stories.
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