Underworld Franchise Getting a Reboot

Yep, that leather clad vampire warrior princess caught between the war raging between vampires and werewolves is set to get a reboot through Lakeshore Entertainment. The original 2003 film, helmed by Len Wiseman and starring his real life wife Kate Beckinsale in the lead, generated 3 sequels and became a $458m franchise in the process.

Underworld’s history is a checkered one, after the first two entries, Underworld ($95.7m) & Underworld: Evolution ($111.34m), were both remarkably profitable for Screen Gems/Lakeshore and increasing the star power of leading lady Kate Beckinsale – the 3rd entry, and prequel, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans saw our leading lady jump ship and be replaced by Rhona Mitra. The result was the poorest performer for the series with $91m globally. Still, it generated a profit and you can’t discount the home entertainment revenue for a franchise like this, it’d be a gold mine on top of this cream. Up to this point the production costs on each film hovered from $22 – $35m.

Not willing to let the franchise go, Screen Gems and Lake Shore doubled the budget to $70m for part 4, added 3D and couped back original star Kate Beckinsale for Underworld: Awakening. Although armed with generally woeful reviews, it went on the gross $160m and take the top spot as the franchise highest entry.

What is interesting to note about the franchise is that its audience growth in international markets has grown exponentially in parts 3 and 4, with the last entry seeing 61% of its box office come from outside of the United States and that market trend is definitely more the norm now in franchise development and performance.

So, rather than take the risk on kickstarting  a new genre franchise (look at the disaster I, Frankenstein was), Lakeshore execs are hard at work rebooting this puppy, though there is not much more to report on it, only that writer Cory Goodman (Priest, The Last Witch Hunter) is on screenplay duties.

The questions for me:

  • Does the franchise need a reboot or, based on the performance of part 4, another sequel?
  • Is 2015/16 too soon for a reboot considering the other one was in 2012?
  • Hasn’t anyone learnt their lesson from rebooting too close to former entries via The Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2?

More as this one develops!

Figures from Boxofficemojo, imdb.