Fresh off the success of his two Mummy movies at the turn of the millennium, which both earned over $400 million at the box office, director Stephen Sommers decided to tackle the rest of Universal’s classic monsters for his follow-up feature. While the idea of Van Helsing sounded good on paper, reinventing Dracula’s arch-nemesis as a Vatican-sponsored monster hunter played by A-list star Hugh Jackman, the execution failed after the filmmaker stuffed the story to its bursting point, burning through Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein, the Wolfman and Dracula himself in a mess of sub-par CGI and wall-to-wall action sequences that quickly became an assault on the senses.
The $160 million blockbuster disappointed critically and commercially, and all plans for a franchise were ultimately canned. However, the idea of a reboot never quite went away, with Tom Cruise attached to star at one stage before he made the ill-judged decision to jump ship to The Mummy, although virtually nothing has been heard from the project since Dan Mazeau was hired to rewrite the screenplay back in 2017.
While the TV series based on the good doctor’s descendant Vanessa is still going strong and has been renewed for a fifth and final season, the character’s big screen future seems to have been stuck in stasis. However, with Universal now making a concerted effort to reboot their monsters once again following the failure of the Dark Universe experiment, it looks like Van Helsing could once more be on the table.
According to our sources – the same ones who told us that Han would return to the Fast and Furious franchise and said that the Transformers series is being rebooted – both of which we now know to be true – Van Helsing is back in active development and they want a younger actor to top-line the project. Our intel hints that Universal are looking to cast someone younger than Hugh Jackman was when he played the role, which indicates that they’re searching in the late 20s to early 30s bracket, given that the Australian actor was 35 when Van Helsing hit theaters in 2004.
With The Invisible Man reaching cinemas this weekend and Paul Feig’s Dark Army, the Monster Mash musical, Dracula spinoff Renfield, Elizabeth Banks’ The Invisible Woman and The Bride of Frankenstein all in the works, too, the Universal Monsters seem poised for a big comeback. With all these creatures on the loose, it makes sense that there would be someone out there tracking them all down. Let’s just hope that the inevitable Van Helsing reboot doesn’t take any cues from the character’s last big screen outing and takes a fresh and interesting approach to the iconic monster hunter instead.