Scott's Spotlight: Underworld 2 Preview
by Scott Juba
Published: June 6, 2004
One of the surprise box office hits of 2003 was the Sony Screen Gems film, “Underworld”. Shot on a relatively low budget of 22 million dollars, the film grossed over 51 million dollars, causing many in the entertainment industry to take notice. Now a sequel to “Underworld” is already in the works, and a third film in the series may also be on the way.
Recently, when I interviewed “Underworld” screenwriter and co-creator Danny McBride, he told me that, at one time, “Underworld” was in jeopardy of not being produced. “It was starting to look like Underworld would not get made, not if Len (Wiseman) was going to direct it anyway,” McBride said. “The studios, and there were a few of them who wanted to purchase the script, were not too hot on first time directors. Len had only shot fifteen or twenty music videos and commercials. Yet, in their eyes, he was still a ‘first timer’. Anyway, 2002 brought some changes when Lakeshore and Screen Gems stepped into the picture.”
The teaming of Danny McBride and Len Wiseman proved to be a successful combination, but “Underworld” was actually not the first film that the pair had intended to make together. McBride explained that he and Wiseman met in 2000 through Nick Reed, their agent at ICM. They were brought together to work on a film McBride had written titled, “Murder.com”. “It was a very twisted teen horror movie,” McBride said. “To describe it in a nutshell, I'd have to say that it was Silence of the Lambs meets Freddy Kruger. If you could imagine something like that being directed by David Fincher, then you could imagine what Len and I wanted to do with it! Strange, I know, but it was pretty damn cool. Len did some unreal storyboards; but despite that and a lot of heavy lifting by our producers, we were unable to gain a distributor. Looking back, I wish that we would have done with it what we always wanted to do: take the teen aspect entirely out of the movie. Quite often, when you are starting out in this town, everyone expects you to write a teen horror flick. If you search around on the IMDB (The Internet Movie Database), you will discover that many writers and directors have one or two on their resumes.”
When McBride and Wiseman teamed up for “Underworld”, the two shared a clear vision as to where the series of films were headed. “From the very start, Len and I were interested in creating an Underworld trilogy. In short, we've always had a prequel in mind. I know the trades reported that a sequel and a prequel have already been greenlit. At the moment, we are focused on the sequel. It's our main priority because the start date is looming in the not too distant future. With that said, we still are forced to spend a great deal of time discussing the prequel because the actions and motivations of our characters in medieval times affects things downstream.”
As for the sequel, McBride confirmed that shooting will begin in the fall for a targeted 2005 release; and he also confirmed that Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman have already signed on to reprise their respective roles. McBride went on to say that he is currently preparing the outline for the second draft of the sequel and that the production team is in the middle of the development stages. “The new film will carry the story further as well as incorporate a few prequel sequences, which should be extremely cool.” He added, “Patrick Tatopoulos (the creature designer) has, par for course, created some fantastic new designs for the film. Len has been busy storyboarding and is gearing up for location scouting.”
The Internet Movie Database reported that McBride and Wiseman also have plans to create a supernatural thriller for Disney titled, “Black Chapter”, and that “Training Day’s” Antoine Fuqua will direct. I asked McBride about the report, and he responded, “We actually got the Black Chapter deal right around the same time we got the Underworld deal. It was an unbelievable week to say the least!” McBride didn’t plan to write “Black Chapter” until “Underworld” filming was complete. The opportunity to do second unit directing for “Underworld”, coupled with “Underworld” script re-writes, further pushed back the start date of writing “Black Chapter”. “As of right now, we are in a holding pattern on Black Chapter,” McBride said. “Antoine has been quite busy over the last year with King Arthur. I wish him the best of luck with it. I hope that when the dust settles we are able to figure out what is going to happen with this project. Without a doubt, Len and I are in love with this film!”
After their success with “Underworld”, it seems certain that McBride and Wiseman will continue to enjoy great success in the film industry, as their career paths are sure to continue on their upward trajectories.
To Read Scott Juba's Review of the "Underworld" DVD Click Here.
To Visit "Underworld's" Official Site Click Here.
To Purchase "Underworld" on DVD Click Here.