Alex Proyas will direct “Dracula Year Zero,” Universal’s origins tale about Vlad the Impaler.
Project, being produced by Michael De Luca, is one of several in the works about the Romanian royal who inspired Bram Stoker’s vampire tale.
Proyas (“I, Robot”) was attracted to the script by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, enthusing over their “fresh take on the legend.”
He said the project manages to play off the horror and the sympathy you have for a character that “sells his soul to the Devil to save his kingdom and family.”
The scribes, who set up the project a year ago, said the goal was to show Vlad when he was still vital and to explore the fact that he’s considered a hero in Romania for fending off the Turks.
“Usually when you see him, he’s past his prime and 100 years old,” Sazama said.
“In our movie, he’s at the height of his powers,” Sharpless added.
“Dracula Year Zero” reunites Proyas with De Luca, who shepherded “Dark City” when he was a New Line exec. It’s also one of several monster movies in the works at the studio, which is prepping a third installment in its “Mummy” franchise and a “Wolf Man” redo starring Benicio Del Toro.
“One of the cool things about this is that we’re doing it at Universal,” Sharpless said. “This is the home of monster movies.”
The script was the first spec sale for the writing partners, who are busy on a couple of other Universal projects, including Zack Snyder’s “Cobalt 60.”
Dueling Dracula projects set up around town include “The Historian,” a contempo book about the search for Vlad the Impaler’s grave that Brad Caleb Kane is adapting for Sony’s Red Wagon shingle, and “Castlevania,” an adaptation of a popular vidgame for which Rogue recently signed up director Sylvain White (“Stomp the Yard”).