Last December, I went to Prague to visit the set of the fifth Underworld movie, Underworld: Blood Wars. While a trip to Prague would get me to visit the set of just about any movie, the location holds particular appeal for the Underworld franchise, which is looking to go back to its roots in its latest installment. The series began with its embrace of gothic landscapes before moving to a more techno, sci-fi bent with the sequels. But as I learned from my day on set, Blood Wars has an eye towards the past when it comes to building the future of the series.
We arrived on Day 39 of 49 for the production, and started off by interviewing producer David Kern. He was refreshingly open with us regarding the state of the series, and acknowledged that they hadn’t made story as much of a priority on the previous movie, Underworld: Awakening. Kern said he’s much happier with what they have for Blood Wars. He also told us:
– They’re not bringing back Scott Speedman or the actress who plays Selene’s daughter because they want to keep pushing those characters down the road.
– There are some characters in the Nordic coven who could make for good spinoff movies.
– They wanted to shoot in Prague because it has the gothic, Eastern European vibe of the first movie.
– Director Anna Foerster wanted to go back to practical wolf suits for the lycans.
– Kern says the movie feels most like Underworld 1 although he notes he didn’t start working on the series until the third film.
– He says that Blood Wars is an improvement on Awakening because Awakening is basically an 88-minute chase movie, but this has “the best story”, and “it’s without question the best Kate character arc.”
– They considered various subtitles for the film. While we were on set, it was still referred to as “Underworld 5”.
We then went to check out the Lycans prosthetic suits and speak with Anna O’Kane and Jack Firman from Masters FX. There were only two suits, and they’ll be used for close-up work while most of the Lycan stuff will be done with CG. Here’s what else we learned:
– Each suit is about 20 to 25 pounds of foam rubber.
– It takes about 20 minutes to put someone inside a suit.
– It’s quadruple the thickness of a wetsuit.
– These are pretty much the original suits as the original 2003 movie, but they had to re-mold the hands because they have different actors.
– The animatronic heads are fairly limited in their range of expressions.
– In addition to four suits, they only had four heads, which includes the animatronics and the “hero stunt” which is a rubber mask for the actor.
– It takes 2 to 2 ½ months to build a suit.
– The legs and eye-blink will be done with CGI.
– At the very end of the shoot there’s a scene where one of the Lycans falls in water. They saved the scene for the end because it takes a week for the suit to dry out.