‘Nomadland’ Director Chloe Zhao Set To Direct Western ‘Dracula’ For Universal

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‘Nomadland’ Director Chloe Zhao Set To Direct Western ‘Dracula’ For Universal

Feb 4, 2021

Jeff Ewing

2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards  - Show
SANTA MONICA, CA – MARCH 03: Producer/director Chloe Zhao speaks onstage during the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards on March 3, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)

Nomadland and The Rider director Chloé Zhao is now set to tackle a new Dracula adaptation for Universal. Zhao is set to write, produce, and direct a new futuristic sci-fi western take on the iconic vampire (though specific plot details are currently under wraps). In a release, Zhao expressed excitement about the project:

“I’ve always been fascinated by vampires and the concept of the Other they embody. I’m very excited to work with Donna [Langley], Peter [Levinsohn] and the team at Universal to reimagine such a beloved character.”

Peter Cramer, Universal Pictures UVV +2.3% president, stated excitement about Zhao’s involvement on the project:

“Chloé’s singular lens shines a light on stories of the overlooked and misunderstood. We are thrilled to be working with her as she reimagines one of the most iconic outsider characters ever created.”

This is only the latest link in a long chain of good news for Zhao. Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand as a woman who takes to the road as a new member of the U.S. community of perpetual nomads, has just received four Golden Globe nominations. These nominations include best motion picture (drama), best screenplay, and best director (Zhao is the first Asian woman to receive a Golden Globe directing nomination). Previously, Nomadland won the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival as well as the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival—the first film to ever win both festival’s top prizes.

This is the second formally announced Universal project to reengage with the Dracula universe. In an earlier announcement, Rocketman director Dexter Fletcher is attached to direct Universal’s Renfield project, a monster movie centered around the Dracula henchman and based on an original pitch from Robert Kirkman. The script was written by Ryan Ridley, and is set to be produced by Skybound Entertainment. Reportedly, the film will take place in the present day and will not be set in an earlier historical period.

Beyond formal Universal projects, it’s a heyday for Dracula fans in general as another Dracula project is in the works for Blumhouse, helmed by Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s BodyDestroyer). That interpretation of the character, with a script written by long-time Kusama collaborators Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay, is reportedly taking place in modern times as well. Universal’s involvement has still not been confirmed, but Blumhouse’s first-look deal with the studio (and their mutual success with The Invisible Man) make another studio’s involvement less likely. At present, whether Kusama’s Dracula adaptation will be pulled into Universal’s overall slate of rebooted Universal Monsters projects or not is still up in the air.

With Universal having scrapped their plans to create an extended ‘Dark Universe’ following the critical and commercial failures of 2017’s The Mummy, studio support for modernized adaptations began anew with the critical and commercial successes of Leigh Whannel’s adaptation of The Invisible Man (2020). The studio has since favored independent horror-centric adaptations developed by various auteur filmmakers, and so far the strategy has proven profitable and critically embraced.


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I manage two blogs - Elle's Adventure in China (EACh) and Read and Write Here (R&WH). EACh currently has China-related content from reputable news sources. R&WH is to express my creativity through writing, art, jewelry, and to inform others.

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