While audiences have been calling for female directors to be given more opportunities to direct franchise films made by giant names such as DC and Marvel, Lakeshore Entertainment and Screen Gems have quietly stolen that thunder by tapping Anna Foerster to helm Underworld: Next Generation. The fifth instalment in this female-led action franchise will be the first in the series to be directed by a woman.
The franchise is characterized as an action-horror film series, and centres on a female lead named Selene (Kate Beckinsale). When she is first introduced in 2003’s Underworld, she is a vampire working to kill Lycans, because she believes they murdered her family. Over the course of the following three films – the second of which (2009’s Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans) is a prequel – a larger battle is revealed, in which vampires and Lycans are at war, until both species are eventually hunted by humans in 2012’s Underworld: The Awakening. The upcoming fifth film will apparently be a new chapter in the ongoing story, rather than a full-scale reboot of the franchise – but will introduce a new range of younger characters.
Director Anna Foerster has a wealth of experience across multiple filmmaking departments – often in collaboration with Roland Emmerich. In addition to working in visual effects and as assistant director on many projects, she was also the aerial director of photography for Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer and 2012, and has directed many episodes of television, such as Criminal Minds, Outlander and Madam Secretary. She will take the reins on Underworld: Next Generation and its cast that includes returning stars Kate Beckinsale and Theo James, working from a script by Priest screenwriter Cory Goodman.
Underworld: Next Generation is due to begin principal photography in October 2015 in Prague, so further casting announcements for the younger roles can be expected soon. Interest in this project will undoubtedly be high, given the renewed momentum behind campaigns for female directors to be given mainstream franchise opportunities, and many will be hoping that the appointment of Anna Foerster to such a profitable, historically male-directed franchise signifies something of a turning of the tide.