Sony announced this week that production on the next entry in the Underworld series has officially begun, with principle photography kicking off in Prague for what will be a 10-week shoot. Lycans and vampires… battle royale! But this time things could be different for the series.
Kate Beckinsale makes her return as Selene, a role she’s played since 2003’s eponymous Underworld. Also making his return is Theo James as Selene’s compatriot David. Anna Foerster, of Outlander fame, will be directing the project with a script from Cory Goodman (Priest, The Last Witch Hunter). Lakeshore Entertainment is the production company behind the project, and according to a 2014 article from The Hollywood Reporter, this installment is actually a reboot… which could be a very good thing.
With a new writer and new director attached to Underworld 5, and the word ‘reboot’ being tossed around indicating a possibly fresh direction, the series may receive a much-needed boost, and fans of the series should be hoping so. Admittedly the series has grossed over $400m globally and still retains a large fan-base but each new installment has been arguably worse then its predecessor. What the first Underworld did so well was create an intriguing modern-day story against a Gothic backdrop of juicy werewolf and vampire mythology. While the lore and associated rules were a bit heavy-handed at times, it was still very engaging and fresh. Unfortunately, each subsequent installment swapped more and more story for mindless action.
Keep in mind the last Underworld film, Underworld: Awakening was over three years ago. Since then, movie and television viewers have been so inundated with vampire, werewolf, and Gothic-period related content that the subject has been beat to death as well as viewers’ eyes. It’s hard to gauge how much demand there is for more vampire-meets-werewolf-meets-x-meets-y content. Films like 2014’s Dracula Untold, a critical flop that still grossed $215m against a $70m budget, would argue the demand and appeal still exists while others like 2012’s Dark Shadows and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter would say otherwise.
Underworld 5 has two things going for it: first, it’s core fan-base which seems to be unwavering despite the progressively poor quality of each entry, and secondly (and possibly more importantly) a new writer, director, and supposed new direction…especially with Theo James’ suspected transition into more of a lead role. He brings a fresh and young face to the film, and his role in the Divergent series could help attract new fans.
Whether one, both, or neither of those factors works out come next October, Underworld 5 will surely define the fate of a series whose relevancy and appeal could be on the line. Underworld 5 hits theaters October 21, 2016.