Chris McKay, the filmmaker behind “The Tomorrow War” and “The Lego Batman Movie,” is directing and producing “Renfield,” which serves as an origin story for Dracula’s unhinged henchman. Based on an original script by Robert Kirkman, the screenplay will be written by Ryan Ridley (“Rick and Morty”).
In Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror novel “Dracula,” R.M. Renfield was an inmate at a lunatic asylum. He was thought to be suffering from delusions that compelled him to eat live creatures in the hopes of obtaining immortality, until it’s later revealed that he’s under the influence of one Count Dracula. Though plot details for the upcoming movie have been kept under wraps, the vampire-adjacent tale is said to take place in the present day.
In prior onscreen adaptations of “Dracula,” the vampire’s loyal subordinate has been portrayed by Dwight Frye in the 1931 film, Tom Waits in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 version, and Roland Topor in Werner Herzog’s 1979 movie “Nosferatu the Vampyre.”
“Renfield” will be produced by Skybound Entertainment’s film team, including Kirkman, David Alpert, Bryan Furst and Sean Furst. McKay’s producing partner Samantha Nisenboim will serve as an executive producer.
After its failed attempt to fashion a monster-verse with Tom Cruise’s commercial flop “The Mummy,” Universal has begun to retool its Dark Universe based on characters from the studio’s vast monster legacy. It shifted its strategy away from an interconnected film franchise and found success with “The Invisible Man” starring Elisabeth Moss, which grossed $143 million worldwide on a $7 million budget. Universal has several supernatural-themed projects in the works, including “Invisible Woman” directed by Elizabeth Banks and “Wolfman” with Ryan Gosling.
Hoult recently starred in “Those Who Wish Me Dead” alongside Angelina Jolie and appeared as The Beast in the latest “X-Men” sequel “Dark Phoenix.” On the TV front, he received acclaim for “The Great” on Hulu.
Hoult is represented by UTA, 42, Relevant PR and Felker Toczek Suddleson Abramson LLP. McKay is represented by UTA, Rise Management and Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner Endlich & Gellman.
Deadline Hollywood first reported the news of Hoult’s casting.