This summer, Universal kicks off its monster reboot universe with The Mummy, which hits theaters on June 9, and will set the stage for a slew of other projects based on some of Universal's most beloved monsters and creatures. One of the other movies that has moved forward through the massive writers room lead by Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan is Van Helsing, which will be written by Eric Heisserer (Arrival) and Jon Spaihts (Passengers). While there is still very little we know about the story, writer Eric Heisserer shed some light on his approach to this vampire hunter character.
While most fans may remember the 2004 Van Helsing movie starring Hugh Jackman, this character goes back several decades, with Peter Cushing portraying him in the iconic Hammer Films such as The Brides of Dracula, and Anthony Hopkins portrayed him in the 1992 Dracula adaptation. While Eric Heisserer, who is coming off two big hits in 2016, Arrival and the low-budget horror-thriller Lights Out, wouldn't reveal any specific plot details, the writer did tease in an interview with Collider that he wanted to make this story as scary as possible. Here's what the writer had to say about his approach to the story.
"I don't know what it's going to look like at the end of the process, so I'm gonna withhold on commenting on really where it lands. I can say that my intent stepping in was to make it as scary as possible, partly because I know how to do that, and also because when you're the only human surrounded by a bunch of supernatural creatures, that's gotta be absolutely unnerving."
Eric Heisserer and Jon Spaihts were part of the writers room that included Noah Hawley (Fargo TV series), Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners), Ed Solomon (Men In Black) and Jay Basu (Monsters: Dark Continent). This approach has become quite trendy, with writers rooms sprouting up for the Transformers franchise, along with separate Hasbro franchises such as G.I. Joe and most recently a King Kong and Godzilla writers room. Eric Heisserer was asked if these writers had all come in with a specific franchise in mind they'd want to tackle. As it turns out, that wasn't the case, while revealing why he and Jon Spaihts eventually teamed up.
"We all came in without putting a flag down on any of those certain monsters or films, just talking about how we saw the world working and what we wanted to explore. Sometimes we'd talk about themes, and Jon and I just found ourselves kind of on the same page in terms of what we wanted to see Van Helsing explore. It was a natural team-up, I think. It was just a conclusion that we all reached around the table that he and I would work on that together."
Universal had previously confirmed that they were using a post-credit stinger in the 2014 film Dracula Untold to make that the first entry in this monster reboot universe, bringing the Dracula character into modern day, where all of these other stories are set. It was later revealed that Dracula Untold will not be part of this universe, but the studio is still aiming at setting all these stories in modern day. Here's what he had to say about the setting, and how he hopes this film is the antithesis to the slew of superhero movies that are dominating the cinematic landscape.
"Well I guess the biggest thing that's already been said is it's contemporary, it's a modern-day reimagining... I can talk about my emotional state of what I've been passionate about or sometimes frustrated by are the number of films where we find an extraordinary character with superhuman abilities that becomes a hero to solve a problem that a normal person cannot solve. And I was eager to try and buck that trend and showcase someone who had no extraordinary powers, just resourcefulness and will and kind of a stubbornness who's able to tackle some of these bigger problems. Because I don't like the idea that we're infusing our public and our pop culture with the idea that only super people can solve the world's problems. I like the idea of the everyday hero stepping up to the plate and getting things fixed."
Universal hasn't issued a release date for this movie quite yet, but the studio has set release dates for unspecified monster reboot movies to hit theaters on April 13th, 2018 and February 15th, 2019. It's possible the Van Helsing could take one of these dates, but it isn't clear who is directing this film yet, or who will star as the title character. It remains to be seen when production will begin, but if Van Helsing does have one of these 2018 or 2019 dates, filming may be starting sooner rather than later.