Underworld meets Resident Evil, anyone? We’ve been looking into some of the potential Underworld crossovers that have been mooted over the years…

The five Underworld films to date have grossed a combined $539m worldwide, putting it up there with the biggest horror franchises going. There’s no sign of either a sixth instalment with Kate Beckinsale’s vampire warrior Selene, or a straight-up reboot as yet, but no sign of the various potential franchise crossovers that have been suggested over the years either.

Originally created by Kevin Grevioux, Danny McBride, (not that one) and director Len Wiseman, the vampires-vs-werewolves saga has lain dormant since 2016’s Blood Wars, which finished with around half of the worldwide box-office total of 2012’s Awakening. The fourth film had been a commercial high-point but was roundly said to be the weakest outing in the series, which might go towards explaining the box-office decline of the fifth one a few years later.

With more frequency than most franchises, Underworld has been mentioned in connection to various possible crossovers even after the early 2000s vogue for mashups like Freddy Vs Jason and the Alien Vs Predator movies. Perhaps that’s down to the current trend of cinematic universes, although we know for a fact that at least one of Underworld’s crossover prospects has been nixed by the biggest one of those going.

The series started with a story about a vampire-werewolf hybrid in 2003’s Underworld, and almost 20 years on, the discussion about its future seems to revolve around what else it can hybridise with…

Resident Evil

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We should start with one that’s come up again and again in online discussions about an Underworld crossover, either because it’s a popular match or an unpopular one. On paper, you can see it.

Both franchises are at Sony’s Screen Gems, both are female-led franchises, and both bring action and horror together in their monster-fighting escapades. On top of that, Underworld and Resident Evil were the premier married couple franchises of their day, both kicked off by filmmakers (Wiseman and Paul W.S. Anderson) who directed their real-life spouses (Beckinsale and Milla Jovovich).

Both Wiseman and Anderson were separately asked about the fan-favourite idea of a crossover at 2012’s San Diego Comic Con, where they were promoting the Total Recall remake and Resident Evil: Retribution respectively. Wiseman admitted that the two of them had joked about it but said “it would have to make sense within both worlds.”

Meanwhile, Anderson, who previously directed 2004’s Alien Vs Predator, pointed out that the crossovers of the day were typically intended as new angles on “dormant” franchises, as with Alien and Predator.

He added: “In the Underworld and Resident Evil world, both of those franchises are quite vibrant and healthy, so the idea of a crossover is probably too premature.”

The question came up again for producer David Kern ahead of Blood Wars, and he gave a slightly more commercially minded response to Bloody Disgusting in 2016, saying stating that “all the Resident Evil fans are also all the same Underworld fans”, so a crossover probably wouldn’t be a bigger box-office draw than doing two separate sequels.

However, at the time of writing, the Resident Evil reboot Welcome To Raccoon City is currently in cinemas, which draws a line under the Anderson-Jovovich series (The Final Chapter of that one hit cinemas in 2017 anyway) and future films in that franchise will probably continue to play closer to the video game source material. It may not go any further than this, but we dare say that the comic-book origins of the Alien Vs Predator property might be the most natural home for an Alice and Selene team-up too…

 

I, Frankenstein

Cast your minds back to this 2014 sci-fi action film – Aaron Eckhart stars as Adam, a superhuman version of Frankenstein’s monster who fights demons and gargoyles at the behest of the Archangel Michael. Underworld alum Bill Nighy plays the villain, a demon prince called Naberius, who plans to create an army of creatures by following Dr Frankenstein’s process.

Beyond the action-horror bent, what I, Frankenstein has in common with Underworld is its writer, Kevin Grevioux, and production company Lakeshore Entertainment. Grevioux first wrote the script in 2010, based on his own graphic novel of the same name. Lakeshore liked it, acquired it that year, and announced it as a potential franchise-starter.

Speaking to I Am Rogue when I, Frankenstein hit cinemas in 2014, Grevioux said that he always had a cinematic universe in mind.

He said: “Whenever I write a script it is always with the sequels in mind. In fact, with this film what is unique is that my first creation Underworld was also with Lakeshore. So, I was even thinking a crossover between the two series.

“In fact, one of the early drafts I did … you know the end credit scenes that Marvel Studios does with their movies? I actually had one with Adam and Selene. But they didn’t do that. […] You know a lot of [producers] didn’t grow up with this stuff like we did. So, they can’t necessarily understand doing that.”

As it happened, the planned I, Frankenstein sequels never materialised – the film grossed $76m worldwide on a modest $65m budget. Plus, it was eventually distributed by Lionsgate rather than Sony or Screen Gems, which would have complicated matters down the line even if the first one had been a big hit.

While we’re sure the movie has its fans, its main legacy may be its botched London bus advert. We concur with Amon Warmann’s (Franken)rankings…

 

 

Blade

Here’s one that seemed to be in the offing before it hit a stumbling block. According to Kate Beckinsale, there were plans for Selene to team up with Wesley Snipes’ half-human, half-vampire Blade, as a sequel to 2004’s much-maligned Blade: Trinity and the Underworld movies, at some point in development.

Of the possible crossovers mentioned in this feature, Beckinsale has been most enthusiastic about the idea of Selene and Blade teaming up, and indeed, she may have broken the news that Blade was coming to the MCU before Kevin Feige did.

At a New York Comic Con panel promoting Blood Wars in 2016, Beckinsale responded to a question about exactly this idea by saying: “No, we had that idea. […] They’re busy. They’re doing something with Blade.”

As the story goes, Lakeshore and Screen Gems reached out to Marvel about the idea of Blade and Underworld crossing over, but were turned down because there were already plans for him in the MCU. After Blood Wars came and went in cinemas, Beckinsale seemingly went off the idea of further Underworld outings. In a 2018 interview, she told Variety she wouldn’t return for another outing, saying “I’ve done plenty of those.”

She added: “I started out in the indie space. I never anticipated doing one of those heavyweight, very physical franchise things. It was scary to see myself on movie posters on the side of every single bus.” (You wanna try being in I, Frankenranken, mate…)

Though Blade was set up at New Line Cinema for the trilogy that starred Snipes as the Daywalker, the rights reverted to Marvel Studios in 2012. It wasn’t until the San Diego Comic Con in July 2019 that Feige led a panel where an MCU Blade movie was confirmed, with Mahershala Ali playing the title role. That said, Beckinsale has again enthused about the idea of a Blade crossover while promoting her 2021 action film Jolt (“What a duo that would be”).

Whether the resultant movie turns out to be R-rated in line with the previous three films or not, it seems incredibly unlikely that Disney taking back the reins on a new Blade movie will set up an Underworld crossover. Still, it seems to be the idea about which Beckinsale is most enthusiastic and stranger things have happened. Alien Vs Predator, for one….

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