Universal recently launched the ambitious, shared-continuity “Dark Universe” films, featuring reinvented classic movie monsters, with a reboot movie of The Mummy that put megastar Tom Cruise atop the marquee as the hero opposite Kingsman: The Secret Service standout Sofia Boutella as the monster. While star power didn’t deliver at the box office for Universal’s The Mummy re-reboot, it appears that the studio is, nevertheless, eyeing another big-name star in Channing Tatum for the upcoming Dark Universe offering Van Helsing.
While Van Helsing is still in the midst of a script polishing, THR claims that Universal is eyeing Channing Tatum for the lead role as the titular vampire hunter. While no further details were provided on this casting prospect, it would be par for the course, considering how many franchise films Tatum actually fielded or found himself in the running to join. The Magic Mike franchise star Tatum is set to make his franchise debut in the stylish action sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle, a return to the comedic-action 21 Jump Street universe in the (bizarre) movie crossover MIB 23 and is still attached to star in Fox’s long-delayed X-Men solo spinoff Gambit. Indeed, headlining Van Helsing would be yet another franchise feather to stick into a crowded cap.
Back in February, The Tracking Board reported that the script for Dark Universe entry Van Helsing fell into in the hands of writer Dan Mazeau, whose only major credited screenplay was the 2012 Greek myth series sequel Wrath of the Titans. Mazeau was tasked to rewrite of the Van Helsing script after it was originally drafted by The Mummy writer Jon Spaihts (Passengers) and Eric Heisserer (Arrival). Mazeau reportedly took on the Van Helsing script duty somewhere around last September after being part of the Universal writer’s room, which gathered high-profile scribes such as Noah Hawley (Legion, Fargo), Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners, The Red Road) and Ed Solomon (Men in Black, Now You See Me) to collaborate on ideas for the Monsters Movie series.
The character of the experienced and well-studied vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing is, of course, intrinsically connected to the story of Dracula, since he is the protagonist of Bram Stoker’s original 1897 novel. The character has manifested in myriad movies, notably played by Edward Van Sloan in Tod Browning’s paradigmatic 1931 Universal version, Peter Cushing in the campy-but-beloved Hammer Films versions, Anthony Hopkins in Francis Ford Coppola’s atmospheric 1992 version and by Hugh Jackman in the (financially-disappointing,) big-budgeted, CGI-action-driven 2004 Van Helsing film, joined by Kate Beckinsale.
Unlike Jackman’s version, who became a werewolf, Universal’s Van Helsing will apparently showcase a more traditional human hero immersed in a genuinely scary predicament. The title role remains uncast and, as exemplified by the studio’s casting strategy for The Mummy and by Syfy’s current post-apocalyptic Van Helsing series starring Kelly Overton, the role could easily be filled by anyone. Moreover, with Universal shelling out substantially for The Mummy to acquire stars like Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, it’s reasonable to expect the same with not only Van Helsing, but other upcoming shared-universe entries such as Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Van Helsing is still in being scripted out and has yet to plan any production or premiere dates. However, Universal’s Dark Universe launcher The Mummy can still be seen at theaters.
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