Nicholas Hoult has signed on to star in Universal’s monster movie Renfield, which will be directed by Chris McKay (The Tomorrow War, The LEGO Batman Movie).
Ryan Ridley (Rick And Morty) has penned the script, which is based on an original story outline from Robert Kirkman (Invincible).
The film will focus on Dracula’s henchman, R.M. Renfield, who first appeared in Bram Stoker‘s original 1897 novel as an inmate at a lunatic asylum thought to be suffering from delusions, but was actually a servant of the iconic vampire.
McKay’s film is expected to take place in the present-day, much like Leigh Whannell‘s Invisible Man movie with Elisabeth Moss. This is a part of Universal’s second, smaller attempt at the Dark Universe.
The original Dark Universe kicked off in 2017 with The Mummy starring Tom Cruise. But when that was poorly received and underperformed at the box office, Universal regrouped to reassess their strategy. They settled on the far better idea of standalone reimaginings of classic horror stories rather than the big blockbuster, MCU-esque team-ups they originally envisioned.
Thus, along with Renfield, Whannell is also developing a Wolfman movie with Ryan Gosling, while Karyn Kusama is directing her own version of Dracula.
McKay is a curious hire, as he’s traditionally worked in the blockbuster sphere with his two aforementioned movies that starred Chris Pratt, and he’s also set to direct DC’s Nightwing and the Johnny Quest reboot.
He feels like the kind of director Universal would have hired for the old Dark Universe, but that doesn’t mean he and Hoult can’t create something great. Seeing a film from the perspective of Renfield should be interesting, and it’s great to see Universal giving directors a chance to be creative with these reimaginings, rather than simply sticking to the same formula.
Hoult was recently seen in Those Who Wish Me Dead and Hulu’s series The Great, for which he’ll reprise his role for the upcoming second season. He’s also set to star alongside Anya Taylor-Joy in Searchlight’s culinary thriller, The Menu.