×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Whedon, Fox vamping

Ani feature based on 'Dracula' in the works

Joss Whedon’s new Mutant Enemy, Inc. production company and Fox Animation Studios are developing an animated musical feature film based on the legend of “Dracula,” the studio confirmed on Thursday.

Whedon, who recently signed a large overall deal at Twentieth Century Fox for both film and TV, is best known for another vampire franchise, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Whedon is also developing a “Buffy” feature, based on the WB netlet’s TV series, which itself was adapted from the original Whedon film of the same name.

“Dracula” will be Whedon’s first original screenplay under his deal with the Fox studio, and he’s expected to produce and write the songs for the film as well.

Whedon, who wrote the screenplay for Disney’s animated feature “Toy Story,” has tried his hand at penning song lyrics in the past. He wrote one of the songs for Disney’s animated video sequel to “The Lion King.”

It is not clear whether “Dracula” will be produced in Fox’s flagship Phoenix studio or at an independent facility, but it is intended as the Chris Meledandri-led Fox Animation Studios’ third major theatrical release — following the unit’s debut “Anastasia” and the currently lensing “Planet Ice.”

Whedon’s Mutant Enemy, formed just last August, has hired two development executives to work on those and several other film and TV projects out of their new Santa Monica lot.

Jeff Bynum has been named senior VP of production at Mutant Enemy. His most recent position was creative executive at Walt Disney/Hollywood pictures. Prior to that, he was director of production at Walt Disney. Bynum will oversee all aspects of development at Mutant Enemy and run day-to-day operations.

George Snyder, who served as Whedon’s assistant on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” has been named director of development. He’ll oversee project production.

“Jeff and George have a great narrative instincts and an aesthetic that matches mine,” Whedon said. ‘Jeff’s experience in development is invaluable for a flegling. …

“Oh God, who am I kidding? I have no idea what I’m doing. I just hired these guys because they’re cute and they weren’t mean to me. Really. They’re not executives. I’m not even sure they both speak English. The whole company’s just a tax dodge, anyway. Oh, God, the hypocrisy!”

Tax dodge or not, Mutant Enemy will have its hands full. In addition to the “Dracula” and “Buffy” features, Whedon is developing several other projects, most with vampire themes. Under terms of Whedon’s deal, he can write, produce and direct any of the projects.

“Grampire” is a feature film family comedy about “two kids who suspect their grandfather is a creature of the night,” Whedon said. The idea for the script came from an episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and both Whedon and the “Buffy” staff will write the script.

“Alienated” is a comedy about someone kidnapped by aliens who turns the tables on his captors. Whedon will supervise a writer and that project and may co-write.

Mutant Enemy is also developing a “Buffy” spinoff for the WB netlet called “Angel,” based on the character from the series played by David Boreanaz. The WB has ordered 13 episodes for fall 1999, and David Greenwalt will co-create and executive produce the series, which will be more adult, darker and more episodic than “Buffy.”

Whedon and his team are also developing a midseason TV pilot for Fox Broadcasting Co. called “Cheap Shots.” It’s an ensemble sitcom, co-written by “Buffy” writer Ty King, about people making low-budget horror films at a B-movie company.

All the TV projects will be produced under the 20th Century Fox TV banner, led by president Sandy Grushow. The film projects will be shepherded by Bill Mechanic, chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment; Tom Rothman, president of worldwide production at 20th Century Fox; and Meledandri. Whedon is repped by UTA and attorney Sam Fischer.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Gully Boy to represent India in

    'Gully Boy' to Represent India In Oscars Race

    The Film Federation of India has chosen Zoya Akhtar’s “Gully Boy” as its entry in the Academy Awards’ international feature film category. The picture, a coming of age tale about an aspiring rapper in Mumbai’s Dharavi slum premiered at the Berlin film festival in February before opening to a wave of acclaim at home in [...]

  • Lucy-Lost

    Cartoon Forum: 30th Anniversary, Little Giants and New Generations

    TOULOUSE, France –  Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Cartoon Forum wrapped Sept. 19 having showcased the ever-growing strength of European animation. 85 projects were pitched from 24 countries at the co-production forum platform that played host to north of 1,000 investors, distributors and producers – a record number. Falling on French-speaking Belgium – Wallonie-Bruxelles – whose [...]

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • 'Downton Abbey' Music Gets 'Bigger, Better,

    As 'Downton Abbey' Hits the Silver Screen, the Music, Too, Gets 'Bigger, Better, Grander'

    When “Downton Abbey” fans hear that familiar strings-and-piano theme, a Pavlovian response ensues: Get to the television immediately, because you don’t want to miss a minute of the addictive Crawley family melodrama to follow. This week, with the “Downton Abbey” movie reaching theaters on Friday, fans can’t wait for their fix of Lady Mary and [...]

  • 45 Seconds of Laughter

    Film Review: '45 Seconds of Laughter'

    “Everyone is worth more than their worst act,” said Roman Catholic sister and anti-death penalty advocate Helen Prejean, and it’s with these words that “45 Seconds of Laughter” closes. It’s an apt sentiment on which to leave Tim Robbins’ sincerely felt documentary study of the therapeutic acting workshops run by his own theater company in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content