It looks like the long-gestating TV version of the popular Underworld franchise may finally be moving forward again. After Underworld: Blood Wars was released in theaters earlier this year, it seemed uncertain as to whether the story would continue via the cinema screen or on TV. Now it seems that the planned series is near filming and according to the creator Len Wiseman, it will differ from the style and tone of the films.
The first film of the series was released back in 2003 and was a surprise hit. This was followed by the sequels Evolution in 2006, Awakening in 2012, and the aforementioned Blood Wars this year. There was also the prequel Rise of the Lycans in 2009, which delved into the complex mythology and rich backstory that the films have built up over the years. The franchise's very core concept is simply that of werewolves fighting vampires in alternative modern times, but with advanced weaponry and leather cat suits. It also established actress Kate Beckinsale as a bona-fide action star with her portrayal of Selene the "Death Dealer", fighting impressively through all of the movies except for Rise of the Lycans.
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It was director Wiseman who co-created and shot the first film and its immediate follow-up, as well as producing all the other movies. He first announced his intention to make a TV series of the brand back in 2014 at the New York Comic Con. At that time it was seen to be a "soft reboot" and a companion series to Selene's adventures. There were no further announcements on the project until he assured fans at the start of 2016 that the show was still in development.
However, according to Deadline, Wiseman has confirmed that the show is definitely moving forward now, with him due to executive produce the potential TV series via his Sketch Films company and Lakeshore Entertainment. The TV division of Sony, is also involved in the project. Wiseman has a definite vision for the franchise on the small screen. According to the director it's being aimed at the mature market on the premium cable and digital channels. As regarding the tone of the show, he says:
"The series will be a pretty big departure from the films ... I don't want to say that it's more adult, but it's definitely less comic book in its tone and character"
The Underworld films have their critics for sure and most of the films get unfavorable reviews. But the franchise does have a large following and has collectively achieved a worldwide gross of $539m against a reportedly combined budget of $212m. They've been praised in some quarters for their strong female lead, and have displayed some impressive action sequences.
They've also built up a centuries-old mythology which could be explored in greater detail. It sounds like this is the universe that Wiseman is going to explore, rather than just an action-based TV series. There are no further story details yet, but it's unlikely that Beckinsale/Selene will be directly involved. It's pure conjecture but with the internal politics and factions displayed in Blood Wars, could we expect a gothic Game of Thrones scenario? We'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, we'll post any information about the Underworld TV series as it is made available.