Universal Pictures, once known for their iconic monster movies, has revived an old classic with a new twist. Originally planned to be directed by Alex Proyas (Knowing) and starring Sam Worthington (Avatar), Universal pulled the plug on Dracula Year Zero due to budget concerns. Now, the studio has resurrected the project and is negotiating with newcomer Gary Shore to direct. While Worthington is out of the picture, producer Mike De Luca is still around. Why does that matter? Because Dracula Year Zero is a passion project of his, one he spoke about at length with Steve two years ago. Not just another vampire flick, Dracula Year Zero was described by De Luca as “on the scale of Braveheart with Dracula, so it’s a lot of…it’s armies. It’s an invading Turkish army. It’s a lot of supernatural action.” If that information is still relevant, Dracula Year Zero will definitely turn out to be a fresh take on an old tale. Hit the jump for more.
Deadline originally reported on Shore’s negotiations to direct Dracula Year Zero. Steve managed to get quite a lot of information on the project in his interview with De Luca. The transcript follows below:
Mike De Luca: Well, Drive Angry we talked about. It has a March start date. We have something that I love to death with Alex Proyas at Universal called Dracula Year Zero that we’re hoping to kind of see if we can get a compelling package for that together to get Universal thinking that we can be one of their bigger pictures for the near future. So I’m going to try to put a lot of time and attention into that one because I would love to see that see the light of day.
Yeah, I would too actually.
De Luca: Oh, have you read that?
I try to avoid…we talked about this a while ago…
De Luca: You’re right, yeah. You’re not a big….
Well no, I try not to read a lot of scripts…the set visits I do are enough to expose me to everything.
De Luca: Right.
Saying that, I think we talked about the whole Dracula thing where you mentioned that it’s a really big movie. Could you sort of tell people like….I mean what’s a little bit more. Have things changed in the last year or two on it?
De Luca: No, these writers came up with the ingenious-what I think is ingenious-approach combining historical Dracula with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. So it chronicles the efforts of a young prince, Vlad of Transylvania trying to keep the Ottoman empire and the Turk’s of the time from using his small country as a stepping stone to invade Europe. So there’s a historical basis for all of that history that’s in the script, but when his back is up against the wall and he can’t figure out how to keep the Turkish army out of his country and keep their hands off his country’s children, which they want to kidnap and press into their army as something they used to call the Jannisserie core, I guess the Roman’s did a version of it also, but this taking of male children from host countries and pressing them into military service for the invading army is another thing he’s trying to prevent. Because his own son is being threatened with that kidnapping. And in the script that we have, he was actually a victim of it himself. He earned the reputation of being the impaler while he was serving the Turks.
One Turk in particular, which is the antagonist in the movie, so in a moment of desperation he looks at this mountain top in Transylvania that all the gypsies in his country say is haunted and full of bad black magic. And he’s never believed in any of that supernatural kind of what he thinks is hogwash. But in a moment of desperation he ascends that mountain to see if there’s any truth to any kind of power that he could use to keep the invading army out. And he finds something that gets him to where we have come to know him as Dracula and uses that power source to kind of fight the Turks after he’s changed.
Well it’s interesting though with the success of obviously the Twilight films and vampires and that kind of stuff, do you think it’s easier to sort of do this kind of…do you think there’s a new angle on this or do you think that Twilight is like a separate kind of entity that doesn’t apply to the others?
De Luca: I think it applies. I think vampires are endlessly appropriate candidates for reinvention because there’s something in the DNA in that mythology that appeals to every generation. Every generation owns their own version of the vampire myth. For me growing up because I was a film geek there was a little bit of the Christopher Lee Dracula movies until the Langella movie. For other people it’s Blade. For other people Underworld. For kids now it’s Twilight to the extent that Twilight kind of transcends vampire mythology because it’s also Romeo and Juliet and it’s also any love across the tracks, you know, impossible unattainable object romance that teens really embrace when you’re going through that part of your life. But I think it’s always right for reinvention and I think there’s something in the DNA of that myth that appeals to all demographics. And I think that’s why you can get away with so many different iterations at once.
De Luca: Right. Finding the right…the comfort level in terms of cast, budget, you know how we’re going to the effects. As written it’s literally on the scale of Braveheart with Dracula, so it’s a lot of…it’s armies. It’s an invading Turkish army. It’s a lot of supernatural action. It’s wonderful. Like it’s an epic love story. It’s got everything you want in a movie like this but it’s tricky and it’s big so we’re trying to figure out how to do it in the most efficient way.
I completely get it. So this is just something that…so this is basically your….
De Luca: Huge passion project, yeah.