NBC has given a pilot commitment to the project, executive produced by Sommers and his producing partner Bob Ducsay. Sommers will write the series' initial episodes and has indicated that the weekly narrative planned for "Transylvania" will be connected in spirit and style to his big-budget feature film but will not share any major characters or storylines with "Van Helsing." "Transylvania" will be produced for a potential fall 2004 debut, mere months after the theatrical release of "Van Helsing."
"Van Helsing," written and directed by Sommers and inspired by the classic Universal monster films of the 1930s and '40s which have endured as cinematic milestones, creates a world where evil is ever-present, where danger rises as the sun sets and where the monsters that inhabit man's nightmares take form. In Sommers' hands, Dracula, The Frankenstein Monster and The Wolf Man are reborn as dynamic heirs to their cinematic traditions. "Van Helsing" (Hugh Jackman), the legendary monster hunter from the pages of Bram Stoker's "Dracula," travels to Transylvania to face down a multitude of monsters in the tale of ultimate evil against a lone force of good.
The mythology and universe that Sommers has created for the feature film are so expansive that he and Universal recognized their potential to be explored in other mediums. Universal hopes that "Van Helsing" will launch a franchise film series for the studio, with "Transylvania" serving as a televised offshoot which shares the film's rich mythic folklore and atmosphere of fantasy and dread.
"I didn't want to stop imagining storylines and characters for this world when I finished writing and directing 'Van Helsing,'" commented Sommers. "The source material is too rich and the basic narrative too promising to wait for further installments of the film series. A weekly series that introduces new characters, conflicts and creatures seemed like an invigorating way to continue my creative commitment to this project, and I'm so happy that Universal and NBC have provided the platform for doing just that."
"Steve flourishes when given free artistic license and a big, blank canvas on which to express his ideas," noted Universal Vice Chairman Marc Shmuger. "The basic conceit of the 'Van Helsing' universe is so compelling that we know that Steve and his team won't be limited to what can be contained in the film franchise. 'Transylvania' is a place that exists in all of our collective literary and cinematic memories, so to explore its secrets and frights in a television series with real production value and Steve's creative signature was an idea we wanted to give life, even before 'Van Helsing' is completed."
"Stephen Sommers has designed this series as a brilliant brand extension of the 'Van Helsing' film franchise. He has an amazing grasp of the ingredients required for long-term success in a television series. The show is conceived as a vehicle for characters and Sommers has populated it with a vibrant conflict-filled collection of personalities that viewers will find fascinating," said Universal Television Productions President David Kissinger.
"Stephen Sommers has demonstrated he knows how to revitalize a genre and cross it over to the mainstream audience. We know this promises to be exciting, compelling and unlike anything else on television," said NBC Prime-Time Development President Kevin Reilly.
"Van Helsing" also stars Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham, Will Kemp, Shuler Hensley, Kevin J. O'Connor, Elena Anaya, Silvia Colloca and Josie Maran. Written and directed by Stephen Sommers, the film is produced by Sommers and Bob Ducsay. Sam Mercer is executive producer.