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While Kevin Smith’s war with film critics might have cooled off in recent days, it looks like the ongoing hostilities between vampires and werewolves are about to heat up again with the latest casting news for fifth film in the Underworld franchise. That’s right ladies, Theo James will be front and center for all of the vampire vs. lycan action in the latest installment of the ongoing series.
The Wrap reveals that James, who appeared as a vampire named David in the 2012 film Underworld: Awakening, will return for the newest installment where he’ll be serving in a leading-man capacity alongside two as-yet-uncast female leads. The new film appears to be setting up as something of a transition entry for the series, particularly since series regular Kate Beckinsale won’t be returning for another tour of duty.
James is coming back to the franchise thanks to an option in his contract with the studio. Since making Underworld: Awakening, the actor has become a pretty hot commodity – all due to his leading man role alongside Shailene Woodley in Divergent, an adaptation of a best-selling young adult novel from Veronica Roth. The actor is set to be busy, because aside from his obligations on Underworld, he’s also locked into Divergent sequels Insurgent (which has already finished shooting) and Allegiant parts 1 and 2.
Launched in 2003, the Underworld series has been a solid box office performer, if not always a critical darling. The films in the series have grossed an impressive $458 million in ticket sales, no doubt helped along by the image of Beckinsale kicking ass in slow motion while wearing a skintight catsuit. Each new entry in the series has expanded upon the mythology of the world’s fictional universe, including the prequel film, 2009’s Underworld: Rise of the Lycans.
2012’s Awakening exceeded expectations, taking in over $160 million and opening the door for the franchise to continue. Early speculation was that the fifth film in the series would be a reboot, but the return of James could drive a stake into the heart of those stories once and for all. Presumably, if David is returning, then the new film will continue to evolve the storyline of the previous entry – which introduced humanity as a third participant in the continuing battle between supernatural creatures.
The real question is, can this series carry on without Beckinsale in a major role? Underworld: Rise of the Lycans featured Rhona Mitra instead of Beckinsale, and it’s the lowest grossing film in the series to date. It’s too soon to play box office prognosticator on this new entry, but getting the right actresses for the female leads will be critical.
Expect more news from the frontlines of the vampire and lycan skirmish when Underworld 5 reveals its new leading ladies.