In August, two and a half years after Underworld: Awakening hit theaters, it was reported that Lakeshore Entertainment was developing a reboot of the franchise, with a script from Cory Goodman (Priest). We didn’t quite know what that mean for series star Kate Beckinsale who made her return for the fourth installment, a film which practically served as a soft reboot of the brand.
We spoke with Awakening co-star Theo James while he was promoting Insurgent earlier this year and he told he wasn’t in Underworld 5, but fortunately for fans of the series which began in 2003, both he and Beckinsale are indeed coming back.
THR reports that Lakeshore and Sony Screen Gems are still working away on another Underworld and are still using Goodman’s script, which we can only assume wasn’t really a reboot to begin with. Things got confusing when Len Wiseman, Beckinsale’s husband and original director, announced at New York Comic-Con that a Beckinsale-focused sequel was happening separate from a spinoff with Theo James and that in addition to the two film projects, a TV series was also in the works.
There’s been no news since but what we now know for certain: Kate Beckinsale is locked in to return as the badass vampire warrior Selene and Theo James is currently attached as well since he was optioned for another from his contract for Underworld 4. There may just be one movie in development for the time being.
Directing the fifth installment will be Anna Foerster, the first female director for the series, who’s coming in after directing episodes for Outlander. Most of Foerster’s directorial work is television-based (Madam Secretary, Army Wives, Unforgettable, Criminal Minds) but she’s tapped to direct the sequel to Source Code and has a long history of working with Roland Emmerich as a director of photography or cinematographer on big budget spectacles 2012, 10,000 BC, and The Day After Tomorrow.
The film begins production this fall in the Czech Republic capital of Prague which lends Underworld 5 for a late summer (August-September) release in 2016. Given the series’ historical release window of January however, it’s also possible extensive post-production and VFX work pushes it to January 2017. Since the director’s background in visual effects, that’s certainly possible – It just depends on how much of a budget the next Underworld has. The original was produced on the cheap for just $22 million but Awakening (which released in 3D) cost $70 million.
Underworld: Awakening brought Selene into the near future where the world had learned of and planned to eradicate vampires and werewolves. Its followup revolves around “a new and younger generation” of these monsters and continues their ageless war. Given the recent lack of major vampire/werewolf releases, at least theatrically, there’s an unfulfilled niche the studios are gunning for.
Underworld 5 will likely release late 2016 or January 2017.