By MICHAEL GINGOLD
Long a henchman to Dracula, R.M. Renfield will be the center of a new film from Skybound Entertainment and Universal Pictures.
Variety reports that Dexter Fletcher, who scored this past summer with the Elton John biopic ROCKETMAN, will direct RENFIELD. Skybound’s Robert Kirkman, who gave zombies a new lease on undeath with his WALKING DEAD comics, came up with the original pitch for the project, which was scripted by RICK AND MORTY’s Ryan Ridley. The story is currently under wraps, though apparently it will be a modern-day take on the character, who in Bram Stoker’s DRACULA and numerous film adaptations is a mental-hospital inmate who likes to snack on insects and falls under the sway of the vampire count. (He’s been played on screen by Dwight Frye in the Bela Lugosi DRACULA, pictured above, Klaus Kinski in Jess Franco’s COUNT DRACULA, Tom Waits in BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA and for laughs by Arte Johnson in LOVE AT FIRST BITE and Peter MacNicol in DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT.)
RENFIELD is part of Universal’s initiative to create a series of individual updates of its classic characters, after its first attempt at a Dark Universe of interconnected films, the Tom Cruise-starring THE MUMMY, came up short. First in the new lineup is Leigh Whannell’s THE INVISIBLE MAN, which appears February 28, and Paul Feig is also working on a secret project for the loose franchise. Kirkman, meanwhile, has been attached to Universal’s long-mooted reboot of AN AMERIAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, to be helmed by Max Landis.