Warner Bros Stakes Out ‘Harker,’ Dracula Project With Appian Way And ‘Unknown’ Director Jaume Collet-Serra

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is closing a deal to acquire Harker, a spec script by Lee Shipman & Brian McGreevy for a re-imagining of Bram Stoker’s Dracula that will be directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. The filmmaker’s latest is the Liam Neeson-starrer Unknown, which will be released February 18 by Warner Bros. Harker will be produced by Appian Way partners Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran, in a coproduction with Mad Hatter Entertainment. That label’s Michael Connolly will also be involved as a producer.

I’m told that the script focuses on Jonathan Harker as the Scotland Yard detective who is tracking Dracula, and the script sets up the sleuth as a potential new franchise character. DiCaprio isn’t planning to act in the film. Appian Way has a first look deal at Warner Bros, and the studio had the inside track even though other studios looked at the project over the weekend. The deal contains progress to production language and so the picture is expected to move quickly. Appian Way produced Collet-Serra’s last directorial outing, the fright film Orphan.

The writers are hot stuff. McGreevy wrote the supernatural mystery thriller novel Hemlock Grove, a book which just told to Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The novel teams an aristocratic vampire, a werewolf and Frankenstein’s monster, and places them in a Pennsylvania high school. As a team, the writers are scripting their pitch Pendragon for New Regency, with Sylvain White attached to direct. Rick Yorn sold the Dracula package and Paradigm reps the writers. Appian’s Michael Ireland brought in the project.

Comments (26)

  • So, Monster Squad goes to high school?

    Comment by Sheldon W. — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 3:35pm PST  
  • Dear Hollywood,

    We’re getting really tired of vampires and werewolves. Let’s try something new and not at all redundant, like a movie about a vampire werewolf. You smell that? Yup, it’s a franchise.

    Yours truly,
    The Gingerales

    Comment by The Gingerales — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 3:35pm PST  
    • What if they assembled the Vampire Werewolf (Vampwolf? Werepire?) from parts of dead vampires and werewolves, a la Frankenstein?

      Comment by Rikki Pinke — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 5:15pm PST  
    • Honestly! My partner and I have just finished a Greek Mythology Spec and everyone’s telling us because of Clash its really hard to get another script with Greek Gods sold … while Vampire / Werewolf films and TV shows never seem to end.

      Comment by Cyrus — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 11:36pm PST  
      • Make Zeus a Vampire, Poseidon a Werewolf (water-breathing, ‘natch)…and package Hera as Kristen Stewart.

        When your script sells, please donate 2% in my honor to the children, ’cause they are the future (of franchises that allow Hollywood to survive).

        Comment by Script Doctor — Tuesday February 8, 2011 @ 3:46pm PST  
  • This vampire trend isn’t going to die any time soon, is it?

    Comment by jinlee — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 3:38pm PST  
  • “Monster Squad” reborn? Will STEPHEN MACHT appear again as the father of one of the high school boys? That’d be a treat!

    Comment by Bonnie — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 3:41pm PST  
  • McGreevy is a fresh and orginal voice and not what you may think…Have read his writings for years, open your mind…and a vein.

    Comment by nataliek — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 3:42pm PST  
    • “Re-imagining” someone else’s original work that’s already been reworked, revised, remade and redone dozens of time over the last 80+ years? Yep, fresh and original!

      Comment by Burrrbank — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 5:14pm PST  
      • @Burrrbank – Perhaps you need to be an artist to understand that you can rework something and create something new and fresh from it… if you are an artist… keep trying… art is out there for you to grab!

        Comment by Hannah — Tuesday February 8, 2011 @ 2:18pm PST  
  • Perhaps even more tiresome than vampires themselves is the puerile and constant retooling of unlikely literary characters such as Harker, Ichabod Crane, Van Helsing, or even Abe Lincoln as “detectives on the trail of…(fill in the blank)” What’s especially laughable is that Hollywood falls for this contrivance every time and perennially thinks it both hot and original.

    Comment by Michael Chase Walker — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 3:58pm PST  
    • I know — GASP! — shocker, right? Thankfully, there are a lot of execs and producers thinking about fresh ideas, and not simply content to chase the current trend of dark reimaginings featuring second-rate fictional characters (three SNOW WHITE projects, seriously?). Keep recycling, reinventing and regurgitating, you half-wits. Then explain to your kids why they have no stories of their own — only your repackaged, quick-sale crap.

      Comment by Abort! Abort! — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 4:40pm PST  
    • Hear! Hear! The trend continues…

      Comment by Abort! Abort! — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 4:52pm PST  
    • The retooling wouldn’t be so bad if it were done right. And done when it’s true to the characters. For example, there’s definitely a tale to be told about Van Helsing’s previous life, but VAN HELSING sure as hell wasn’t it.

      Comment by deering — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 11:29pm PST  
      • Great point– keeps the literary integrity intact while opening up new dimensions to the characters– it’s just so hackneyed to take a character like Harker and willy nilly change him into a detective– what like the name Harker is gonna sell that many more tickets?— most movie-goers today don’t know who the hell Bram Stoker is let alone Jonathan Harker…

        Comment by Anonymous — Tuesday February 8, 2011 @ 9:25am PST  
  • Well, fresh and original voices don’t go off and remake the same story that’s been told a million times over. Open your mind and find a new idea.

    Comment by sickofit — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 4:00pm PST  
  • Didn’t anyone learn anything from the VAN HELSING debacle?

    Comment by DeadPool — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 4:13pm PST  
  • how original…. yawn

    Comment by Anonymous — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 5:03pm PST  
  • Actually, I’ve read this script, and the vision is stunning. Centering on Harker (in these writer’s able hands) is a fresh and interesting way to look at this material. He’s young and in love and it’s a great vehicle for a rising young actor. Both writers are amazingly talented – either of them singularly would have no trouble working in this town, together they are a freight train.

    And no – I’m not an exec, I don’t work at Warner, and I’m not a percentary. I’m an envious fellow writer. So haters, shut up. You’ll like the film.

    Comment by tentoes — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 5:03pm PST  
    • The problem is not your freight train friends, or their stunning take on the material. The problem is Dracula. No one wants to see the dude again. He’s been tired. Let him rest.

      Comment by vlad tepish — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 6:38pm PST  
    • But it’s okay to be a little cynical, too, no? We don’t all have to be envious sycophants, and really is it the Harker character who needs to be revisited? He was young and in love when he was Count Dracula’s barrister as well. At least Coppola and Hart tried to add a new dimension and backstory to the sanguinary count’s quest for eternity (albeit confusing). I don’t doubt the writers are talented and the script is good, but it is also valid to call out the rather tedious trend of revisiting and revising all the great literary figures as detectives and more than a little hackneyed.

      Comment by M — Monday February 7, 2011 @ 6:59pm PST  
      • actually many incarnations of harker have been bastardized in favor of a more sympathetic dracula

        if this paints him in a better light i wouldnt mind

        Comment by sobek — Wednesday February 9, 2011 @ 10:06am PST  
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