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SYFY WIRE Renfield

Renfield: Universal's Dracula pic with Nicholas Hoult & Nicolas Cage sets 2023 theatrical debut

The project hails from Chris McKay, director of The LEGO Batman Movie and The Tomorrow War.

By Josh Weiss
Nicholas Hoult; Nicolas Cage

Count Dracula and his right-hand man will arrive on the big screen — again — next spring. According to Deadline, Universal Pictures has officially slated Chris McKay's Renfield for a wide theatrical bow on April 14, 2023. Production on the movie kicked off earlier this month.

Written by Rick and Morty scribe, Ryan Ridley (his screenplay is based on an idea by The Walking Dead and Invincible creator, Robert Kirkman), the film is a supernatural comedy centered around the assistant of the most famous vampire in pop culture history.

X-Men alum Nicholas Hoult will play the titular protagonist, while the ever-welcome Nicolas Cage (National Treasure) steps into the role of Renfield's undead, coffin-dwelling superior. This is Cage's second time in the blood-sucking genre after 1989's Vampire's Kiss. Awkwafina (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), Ben Schwartz (Sonic the Hedgehog), James Moses (Queenpins), and Adrian Martinez (Stumptown) are also a part of the ensemble cast.

Chatting with SYFY WIRE last summer, McKay (whose directorial credits include The LEGO Batman Movie and The Tomorrow War) teased the project as a story of "co-dependency" and "bad bosses." He went on to describe it as "a horror-action movie" before clarifying, "it’s also obviously a comedy, and it’s also gonna be a lot of fun."

"The whole plot is that Renfield is Dracula's servant and decides that he doesn't want to be his servant anymore, and it's that conflict that kind of drives the story," Kirkman said a month later during a panel recorded for Comic-Con@Home. "So yeah, Dracula's actually a big part of the movie."

Cage spoke with The Los Angeles Times last month and alluded to his interpretation of Dracula, stating:  “The key, I think, is movement. I saw a movie called Malignant and the director James Wan and the actress [Annabelle Wallis] created this choreography that was terrifying. So I’m hoping to do something like that where Dracula can either glide or move like Sadako in Ringu."

McKay, Kirkman, David Alpert (Locke & Key), Bryan Furst, and Sean Furst are producers. Having produced 2009's Daybreakers, the Fursts no strangers to grappling with creatures who feast on human blood for sustenance. Samantha Nisenboim, a McKay collaborator since LEGO Batman, serves as an executive producer.

Earlier this week, Universal celebrated the start of production for Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer, a historical thriller chronicling the life of brilliant scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his contributions to the Manhattan Project (the top-secret military operation that led to the development of the world's first atomic bombs during World War II).

Cillian Murphy — who previously worked with Nolan on the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception — leads an A-list cast that includes: Robert Downey Jr., Michael Angarano, Kenneth Branagh, Jack Quaid, Matt Damon, Josh Hartnett, Florence Pugh, Benny Safdie, Rami Malek, Dane DeHaan, Dylan Arnold, Emily Blunt, David Krumholtz, Alden Ehrenreich, and Matthew Modine. 

Universal Pictures & SYFY WIRE are both owned by NBCUniversal