Renfield: Chris McKay in talks to direct film about Dracula’s henchman
Ahead of The Tomorrow War‘s premiere this coming July, it looks like director Chris McKay is setting up his next high-profile project with Universal Pictures. According to Deadline, McKay has entered negotiations to helm one of the studio’s upcoming monster movies, Renfield, which centers around Dracula’s infamous henchman. Should the deal push through, McKay would also be serving as a producer along with Samantha Nisenboim as an executive producer. More than a year ago, Bohemian Rhapsody director Dexter Fletcher was previously attached to direct the long-in-development project.
Plot details for Renfield are being kept under wraps, but it is said to be set during the present day. The project will be based on an original pitch from The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman and was written by Ryan Ridley (Rick and Morty). The film will be produced by Skybound Entertainment’s Kirkman, David Alpert, Bryan Furst, and Sean Furst.
In the original 1897 Dracula novel, R.M. Renfield was an inmate at a lunatic asylum who was thought to be suffering from delusions but is actually a servant of Dracula. The role was originated memorably in the 1931 movie by Dwight Frye, followed by Tom Waits in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 Bram Stoker’s Dracula, then Peter MacNicol in the Mel Brooks parody Dracula: Dead and Loving It, and by Samuel Barnett on the TV series Penny Dreadful.
Due to Universal’s failed attempt at building their Dark Universe with Tom Cruise’s The Mummy, the studio decided to abandon the shared universe approach and instead focus on character-driven films guided by strong filmmakers and good stories. The first result of their new strategy was Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man starring Elisabeth Moss and Oliver Jackson-Cohen, which garnered positive reviews from critics and was a box-office success.
The Renfield film is part of Universal’s growing list of upcoming monster projects, including Elizabeth Banks’ Invisible Woman, Matt Stawki’s Monster Mash, Karyn Kusama’s Dracula, the Ryan Gosling-led Wolfman film, David Keopp’s long-in-development The Bride of Frankenstein reboot, Josh Cooley’s Little Monsters film, Blumhouse’s The Thing adaptation, the James Wan-produced Van Helsing movie, and an untitled monster thriller from Phil Lord and Chris Miller.