Dracula's henchman is about to get his due, as Universal plans an entire feature film around R.M. Renfield. Dozens of movie adaptations of Dracula have come out since the horror novel was published in the late 1800s. One of the first came in 1931, with Bela Lugosi as Dracula and Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing, a doctor and vampire hunter. Van Helsing also got a film of his own in 2004, with Hugh Jackman taking on the title role. More recently, Luke Evans played Dracula in 2014's Dracula Untold, which showed the main character as an anti-hero instead of outright villain.
In the Dracula novel, Renfield is in a lunatic asylum run by John Seward, who's a former student of Van Helsing. Renfield is in the asylum for delusions that cause him to eat living creatures. As Dracula's powers give him control over other animals, he sends flies and spiders to Renfield. In return, he asks Renfield to worship him, using Renfield's belief that blood is the source of life against him. However, Renfield eventually turns on Dracula, which leads the vampire to kill him.
Per Variety, the film will be aptly titled Renfield and is described as "a monster movie." The movie occurs in the present, but nothing else is known about the story at this time. Dexter Fletcher, who recently directed the Elton John biopic Rocketman, will helm the film. Renfield is among a couple of other monster-focused films either already completed or in development at Universal, who originally planned on an interwoven universe of films. Instead, Renfield and others, like 2020's The Invisible Man with Elizabeth Moss, will be standalone stories.
Renfield isn't the only Dracula project currently in the works. Sherlock's Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat have teamed up for a 3-episode TV series version of Dracula to air on BBC One and Netflix. Gatiss and Moffat are also known for British TV staple Doctor Who. Their Dracula project will star Claes Bang as Dracula and finished filming over the summer. The show's first trailer premiered last month, appropriately, just a few days before Halloween. Previously on the TV side, Sky Living and NBC aired a Dracula series with Jonathan Rhys Meyers in 2013 that lasted one season.
The sheer number of Dracula-focused movies and TV series over the years proves that it's a reliable source of material for writers and directors. However, Renfield's focus on a smaller character should help capitalize on the familiar theme of Dracula while also setting itself apart. The addition of Fletcher as director should only help the film's chances, as he's coming off the success of Rocketman, a film beloved by viewers and critics alike. Though we're a long way away from Renfield making it to theaters, fans should be excited to see what Fletcher and Universal do with such an interesting character from Dracula.